Monday (October 28), we headed back to the village Maramara. We are staying in Goz Beida (perhaps 40 miles from the border of Sudan). It has become the "home base" of UN and other NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) who were helping refugees during the Darfur crisis. Because the UN came here – that made eastern Chad much more "reachable" for Christians. Goz Beida still has no electricity but it has enough NGO's that you do see vehicles (Land Rovers, etc…) driving around the sandy "roads" of the "town." We are staying inside the compound of an NGO called "Oxfam." World Concern is the only Christian organization working in Eastern Chad. Certainly many of the NGOs are filled with Christians who are here to help, but World Concern is the only group in Eastern Chad with particularly Christ-centered goals. I am SO thankful for the hundreds of Christians who have moved from the southern part of Chad to the eastern side to help this needy area (villagers and refugees). But I'm thrilled that World Concern chose to come here.
Here are some photos to summarize the first part of the day:
Before we drove out to the village – I asked if we could stop by the school connected with the church and see the students.
Whenever we would walk in a room – the students would stand to welcome us. They wear uniforms. Can you imagine sending your child to school in these conditions? Dirt floors, benches, no desks, unbearable heat, etc… And they pay for this! Again, I am most excited about the fact that Muslim parents pay to send their children here even though the administration is very clear that they will be teaching the Bible. In a virtually unreached town like this – this school is probably the best evangelism tool in Eastern Chad. About half of the children are from Muslim families.
Just adorable children
This is one of the Kindergarten classes. Goz Beida is among a vast minority of villages/towns in eastern Chad that has schools. There is a government school in town.
This is the currect, temporary school office – while they put a concrete floor in the small room they typically use for an office. That will be a big upgrade from the dirt floor the office previously had.
Women and children typically are friendly and wave around town. The men are often more somber and suspicious.
Then it was the 90 minute drive out to the village. Remember, the village is very different than Goz Beida. There are no NGOs; it is all grass huts; we don't know of anyone in the village who reads and writes. It is 100% Muslim. Their mode of transportation is primarily donkey – although they have at least one horse. When you drive out to the village – you enter a different world (at least it feels like it). And Goz Beida already was the most remote place in the world I'd already been. Maramara is a whole different level.
In the photo above, Nate and Emmanuel are attaching a camera to the hood of the truck for a video.
I'm used to seeing deer in the road that you slow down for. Here a camel was in the path. Driving in Africa is quite a different atmosphere!
Tomorrow – our meeting in the village!