Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Cracked heels and big smiles

Hello from Chad and welcome to my first blog of 2016.  I arrived safely with all of my luggage on 7th January and had the first week and a bit to unpack and settle into my house on the compound here at Guinebor II Hospital.  That first week also enabled me to say hello to my Chadian work colleagues, 90% of whom are the same as when I was here last time.  It has been really good to see them all again.  By far my best welcome back was from my pharmacy colleague Elisabeth who greeted me with a big smile, lots of whooping, then gave me the biggest hug possible and proceeded to lift me up and down three times!!  Other staff asked after my family and a lot of people told me, with a big encouraging smile, that I had gained weight!  This is most definitely not an insult, weight gain is seen as a good thing here as it means you’re eating well and are being well looked after.

So I’ve been here for 4 weeks now but to be honest it feels a lot longer.  In a weird way it feels like the 22 months since I left never happened.  They obviously most definitely did, and I learned a lot in those 22 months, but I think that because the UK/France and Chad are so vastly different, it’s like they’re two completely different worlds.  I’ve left my ‘Europe world’ and re-entered my ‘Chad world’ and it feels like I’m just continuing on from March 2014.  It’s an odd feeling in a way but also strangely comforting.  I’ve not got to learn how to live here as I’ve done it before.  I’ve had to relearn my way into town along the dirt tracks though, as numerous buildings have been built in Guinebor and the surrounding area since I left, some of which are built where the ‘road’ used to be!  Some of the shops in town have moved.  Some of the shops I used to buy things in are now more expensive than others that used to be on the pricier-side.  The internet infrastructure is much better.  The airport has been completely renovated.  More roads in town are tarred.  Apart from all that, N’Djamena is pretty much how I left it in 2014.

The pharmacy team is still the same and seem to be doing a great job.  It’s been good to get re-acquainted with them and share news.

With pharmacy colleagues

My role here at the hospital is still evolving but I am currently doing some hospital personnel management (cue a steep learning curve of Chadian employment law, in French obviously), as well as having supervisory oversight of the pharmacy and the lab.  There’s a lot involved in keeping the hospital running, as I’m beginning to find out!

However it’s always good to remind myself why I’m here and it’s to contribute to the provision of high quality compassionate health care for our many patients.

Some of the day's patients and relatives

It’s been a good first month, I know I’m where I’m meant to be.  I am really noticing my improved level of French, thanks to my studies at Les Cèdres. I am loving the perpetual blue sky and temperatures of a ‘chilly’ 17C in the mornings and highs of 25C.  (I’m enjoying it whilst it lasts!).  I’d forgotten exactly how dry Chad is.  With a humidity of just 10%, my heels cracked in the first week as I forgot the need to douse them with lotion!

I’ll leave you with a picture I quickly snapped the other evening out in Guinebor II on my way home.  I love African sunsets!

Sunset at Guinebor II


  1. Great to hear your news. Pleased that you have settled so quickly. With best wishes from a windy Orkney

  2. So glad to hear things are going well and that you're where you're supposed to be :-)