Day three of our trip was Friday. We started in N'Djamena (the capital of Chad). Our flight out was at 7:00 AM. USA Today recently listed this airport as one of the worst in the world. I'd give it a vote (although the bugs were the reason it was listed and there were no bugs this morning).
When we landed and I walked off the plane – two things struck me. 1) This is exactly what I expected central Africa to look like! I've been in Egypt (North Africa) and the country of South Africa – but never in the heart of the continent. When you look at the photo above and the landscape, isn't that what you'd expect? 2) I couldn't stop thinking, "We landed a commercial-style plane on gravel!!!" Ha!!
We flew on this plane to Goz Beida. We were limited to 33 pounds each. With Nate's equipment and my books, that was a challenge! But we made it. It was kind of cool to fly to a place that only the United Nations can get you.
The reason the United Nations is in this area is because of the Darfur crisis. This was their base of relief for the eastern side of Chad. It is about 40 miles from the border and was impacted by the crisis. There are still 18,000 refugees living within a mile or two of Goz Beida.
Mark Lamb met us on the airstrip. He works for World Concern and is in Goz Beida as three churches come through. They are partnering each church with a different needy village. He has an amazing job. Some of you may recognize him from 16:5. He is coming again this next March!
This is Athanase. He is the director for World Concern in Chad. He grew up in Rwanda and went through the crisis there. Perhaps you've seen Hotel Rwanda. He lived that crisis. He was 21 years old. Thankfully, although 10% of the country were slaughtered – he and his wife survived. We spent a couple of hours debriefing about what we will be doing the next few days.
There are all kinds of "creatures" all over this place!!!
There is no gas stations within hours. The only ones who have vehicles are the United Nations and other NGO (Non-Government Organizations) that are there to help with the aftermath of the Darfur crisis. So they get 50 gallon barrels of gas and fill their vehicles this way!
By the way – there is no electricity either. If you have power – you have a generator. The only ones who have generators are the United Nations and any NGO (Non-Government Organization).
This is the compound Nate and I are staying in. The United Nations had a large group that came in this week, so there was no room there (they have the nicest quarters). So we stayed at Oxfam, another NGO. By the way, World Concern is the ONLY Christian NGO in eastern Chad. Many humanitarian groups, but they are not Christian ones. They have a generator, but it only runs from 8:00 AM until around noon (maybe, I'm not sure – we are gone that entire time). It turns back on from 4:00 PM until 10:00 – then shuts off. I have never been so hot in my life as I am trying to sleep here…
A normal site throughout Chad. You can see a couple of grass huts ahead. That is the housing for everyone – except those who live inside the NGO compounds.
For our meals – we eat at the nicest restuarant in Goz Beida. Here we are getting in. It is inside one of the United Nations' compounds (they have several). You see the guard has opened a place where he can see who is knocking. The level of security here is something.
Well – three days of travel and getting settled. Tomorrow – we go to the village that our church will be partnering with for our Advent Conspiracy project.