|The terrace where I sleep with Ophelie, it's much cooler outside though quite noisy sometimes!|
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about what I do during a week. It ended up being very long so I have split it into three parts; here is the first part of “a week in Moursal” (the area of town where I live).
|The balls and lessons|
My week starts at 8 o’clock when I go out to play with children in the neighbourhood. These are children of the vulnerable women who we are trying to reach who haven’t taken part in the program. The children go to school every other day and otherwise they just play by themselves. They are always very excited when I come (shouting Naomi, I hope that in a few weeks it will be Rebecca!). They love playing duck duck goose, singing He’s got the whole world in his hands and are very keen to teach me Head Shoulders Knees and Toes in Gumbaye, the most common language in the South of Chad. A new favourite which I have just taught them is the Hokey Kokey; they never know when to stop going ooohhhhh!
I play just outside of the house of Lisa*, one of the ladies who is in the new group at the Acacia centre. She is very lively and plays with us she often has more energy than the children! After we have played for about an hour, Lisa and I walk to my house and I have a lesson with Lisa. I have just started teaching her how to read and write. She speaks French well and knows the alphabet as well as a few simple sounds. I’m doing my best to help her be able to read. It’s not easy but she is very willing to learn.
After that I sometimes go on to visit Lisa and Sarah*, the two ladies in the new program but if not I head home to rest and read a bit!
Around 11 O’clock Elizabeth* one of the ladies from the first group at the centre comes to sweep and get rid of all the dust that accumulates in one week. We quite often chat for a bit first and drink cold water together. It takes her about an hour to come from her house, walking and then taking public transport which in the 40 degree heat is tiring in itself! Elizabeth has been working in our two flats for the past few months, she comes three days a week to clean and cook. As at the beginning of the year I was at home most mornings so we have become good friends.
Then at about 12.30 Ophelie, my house mate comes in from her morning activities with street children and we have lunch which could be fried sweet potatoes bought from the lady across the street or a sandwich with French bread.
I spend the afternoon at the centre with the first group, getting in at about 6.
The next day I am up at 6:20 again! We have breakfast- obligatory coffee and French bread with peanut butter and laughing cow cheese- a great combination or marmite. Sometimes we have beignets which are kind of like unsweet small doughnuts which we buy from a lady across the street.
All morning we are at the centre with the second group.
Once we have finished (how long we go on for changes every day), I go home and have lunch with my neighbours, Ophelie and Elizabeth. Elizabeth cleans our flat on Tuesdays and then cooks Chadian food, boule (a paste a bit like playdough made with rice/ maize flour and water) or rice and sauce for us. My favourite sauce is peanut butter sauce with beef. We eat sat on a mat outside as it is supposedly cooler.
|Eating boule and sauce with Elizabeth, my flatmates and one of my flat mate's brothers|
At 2:30 every two weeks, Laure (a Belgian missionary who works with street children) comes by and picks Lucile (one of my French neighbours) and me up to go to an orphanage where we organise a club for about 10 3-5 year olds. The orphanage is quite small and was set up by a Chadian Christian who basically started welcoming orphans and abandoned children. The children (like all children) need love and often the youngest ones don’t get much input. We tell them a bible story, do an activity and sing songs with them. For the past few months we have been talking about how we are all precious in God’s eyes based on Isaiah 49:15-16 :
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.
It's good fun and it will be hard to leave these children.
|Playing a game at the orphanage|
On Tuesdays when we don’t go to the orphanage, Lucile and I are trying to visit different friends from our choir.
At 4:30 we take a bus either from home or the orphanage to our church for choir practice. On Tuesdays we only have one hour during which we are meant to practice songs for the album which we are preparing. Most of the songs are in Nanjere (the language of the church) which is proving interesting especially for Lucile who has been asked to sing a solo!
We walk home after choir as it is still light and get in at about half 6.
On Wednesday’s I get up at 6:20 and actually leave the house with Ophelie to go to work! I help out with the street children project on Wednesday mornings. We take a taxi to a church in a different area of town. We start by chatting and saying hello to all the children waiting outside. Then we pray together as a team before starting the activity. We have a team of 9 including missionaries and short termers working with the project as well as Chadian volunteers. We welcome about 30 children and give them water.
We each take it in turns to tell the bible stories (using the same books as the centre) in French translated into Arabic and then we have a short lesson. We are teaching them to read and write in Arabic but using roman script. After the lesson they have a small page of exercises to complete before they wash their hands and get tickets which they can exchange for a meal with a lady who has a road side restaurant. It is often fun with the children and a good opportunity to improve my Arabic but it is also quite sad as they lead very difficult and dangerous lives in the streets and are addicted to drugs, glue and alcohol.
After the activity Ophelie and I take the bus home. At 11 I have another lesson with Lisa then a lesson with Sarah who I am also helping to read and write. And I just about have enough to time to have lunch before I have to be at the centre again with the second group. We finish at about 6.
Once home I have time to rest. Ophelie and I cook tea, sometimes chat to our neighbours about the day and spend the evening either resting or preparing things for the rest of the week which I’ll tell you about in my next blog!
*Names have been changed to protect identity.