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Traveling to Chad… Is That In Africa?

January 10th, 2011

Chad… “Is that in Africa?” Is the most common question I have been getting when I say where I am going, or what I’m doing for the month of January.  Otherwise called J-term at Linfield College where I just finished my first semester of nursing school.

I found a hospital in the “bush” of Chad as the doctors there call it. I’ll be meeting up with Olen an ER doc, and his wife Danae an OBGYN with their almost 2-year-old little boy Lyol. They are just starting their rotation at the remote hospital and seem excited for my arrival. We are all the same age and I am excited for this learning experience for sure!

I had requests for a variety of supplies including; a toilet seat, colostomy bags, baby wipes, deodorant, batteries… And it’s BYOG (bring your own gloves), so I have loads of those and the biggest bottle of hand sanitizer I have ever seen!

Getting there is the major battle of this month. My flight is 2+ days, so on the calendar it’s 3 days of just traveling — not to mention getting to and from the airport.

I fly Seattle-DC-Ethiopia-Chad. Once I arrive in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital, I was told I’d be greeted by one of several people, including something about a person that may mention cheese… If they do this, and say their name is Sara, it’s OK, or if they are a Taxi driver and mention the hospital, they are OK to go with as well… Basically any number of people that may know something — kind of like a secret code.

Then they may or may not take my passport to get a national pass from the police, then I can stay in one of several hotels that are gross, a little gross, or $200 a night. The next day, I will take the one and only bus to Bere. When I arrive there are no paved roads, no bus stops, but if nobody is there to greet me from the hospital, just ask “Hospital?” and someone will point me in the right direction.

To someone who hasn’t traveled to a developing nation I could see where this all would sound a little extreme. I just know I’ll be hot and exhausted, but as long as I settle into the rhythm, these sorts of ‘systems’ work themselves out more often then not. So here I go, trusting that if I just keep moving on to the next portion of this journey, I’ll eventually get to Chad and to the hospital.

More coming soon!

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