Thursday, 6 June 2013

My new surroundings

OK so I thought I would try and describe my new surroundings as best I can. I am living in the Guinebor II area of N’Djamena, at the hospital there. The hospital has a 10 foot (ish) wall around the perimeter, with barbed wire running around the top of it. There are two entrances, one for vehicles and one for pedestrians. People coming to the hospital to consult a doctor or nurse usually arrive by taxi or motorbike which drop them off outside the pedestrian entrance. It’s usually just us missionaries going in and out of the vehicular entrance and trades-people such as the builders or the solar-panel engineers.

The hospital is situated in a very dry and dusty, fairly barren landscape (although I am told that most of the sand/dust turns to mud in the rainy season, which should be interesting!).Since the hospital was built, more and more private houses have been built in the area. These are typically one room mud-brick buildings with galvanised iron roofs.There are also a few small shops (boutiques in French, although they’re nothing like you would expect a ‘boutique’ to look like!).These shops sell basics like bread (fab baguettes, a hang-over from French colonisation) and milk powder (the only way to have milk here apart from UHT that doesn’t last long).Oh and also Coca-Cola!Oh and mobile phone credit, which is really useful as else it’s a 20 minute trip into town. There’s a mosque about 500 metres away from the compound and we often hear the call to prayer.Below are 2 photos.  One is of the main hospital entrance and the other is of the area outside the hospital compound. The second one was taken at 5.30am one Saturday a few weeks ago! It was fab to see the sunrise and it was so lovely and cool at that time of the day – about the same temperature as at midday on a sunny summer’s day in the UK!

Main entrance to hospital

Area outside hospital (compound wall is on the right of the pic)
Inside the compound is a carpet of sand. To the right-hand side are the houses us expats live in. Single storey houses with tiled floors. All have solar panels and we generate enough electricity to mean that that is our sole source of power. We have gas-powered fridges and cookers. To the left of the compound is the pedestrian entrance to the hospital and triage area. Then there are gates through to the admin office, payment desk and pharmacy and a waiting area for the outpatient consultation rooms and the laboratory. Behind the pharmacy are the maternity rooms and operating theatre (called the ‘bloc operatoire’ in French, it took me ages to work out what people meant when they said ‘they’re in the bloc’!!). Via a link pathway are the 4 hospital wards – around 8 beds in each – and 3 private inpatient rooms. Just outside the compound is a covered area where the carers of the patients stay and prepare meals for their relative who is an inpatient.
So there we have it, a brief overview of my new surroundings! Add the daily temperatures that are still around 40 degrees by day and 30-35 degrees by night and you have a bit of a picture of where I’m currently living!

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