Ruth, or Am-Ratou, is a young woman who works as a
guide in rural development. She is not afraid to talk. Her
appearance is striking. She is tall and her stately cheeks and
her beautiful skin tone make her stand above any fashion model.
She came to find me at the house to speak since where she lives she is
always busy taking care of the children and of her many friends and
neighbours who come to visit her. She spoke to us in
French. Her first language is Kenga but she also speaks Chadian
I was born in 1959 in Korbol. I am the
oldest child in my family. We lived in Korbol until I was school
age. The rebels came from time to time to mistreat people and
burn houses down. One day we hear gunshots and the villagers and
ourselves ran away to hide in the mountains. Each time it was
like this. My father saw that this was troubling for the
children, and so we moved to Bitkine. My father continued to
travel each day to Borko where he was a health worker.
When my father was young, he met a Swiss
missionary named Barh. It was at this time that he came to know
the Saviour and began to live a Christian life. Then he married
my mother and they settled in Korbol. Little by little my mother
also came to know the Saviour. They were both baptised.
They remained Christians and remained faithful to God.
I met my husband when we were both young
people at the church in Bitkine. One day, each of us knew that
we had been chosen to marry one another. Moussa, my husband,
grew up in a Muslim home. He came to Mongo to go to school and
lived at the Protestant Mission's boarding house. It is there
that he turned to Christ, and remained a Christian. He is now
one of the pastors/ elders of the church. Our wedding was the
first church wedding of all the churches which are in the villages
around Bitkine. We invited people from all the churches who were
in the villages around Bitkine. It was a very special day.
The church was full; and those who did not have somewhere to sit stood
outside. Many others also came to observe, out of curiosity.
After our wedding, my husband was
given his assignment and we left Bitkine for N'Djaména, the
capital. It was in 1979, and the civil war had begun.
Everything was paralysed. There was not even any running water
in town. The uncle of my husband was in Nigeria and we decided
to go there. We crossed the Chari River. I had my baby
Ratou on my back and we carried our goods on our heads. The
water went up to my waist. Many people were coming and going
across the river.
We lived with the Kanouri in Nigeria, in an
isolated village. The people there cut wood, and large trucks
came to take it to sell in the big city of Maiduguri. Everyone
was allowed to have a piece of land to cultivate there. This is
why we chose this spot. The first year was difficult but the
following year went well. The soil produced well. My
daughter Nakoro was born there. There was another Chadian family
living there. The people were very happy to have us living
We would receive news from time to time about
the war. We were concerned for our families but it was worse in
N'Djaména than in the centre of the country where our families were.
None of the people of the area were
Christian, but they gave us the freedom to hold worship
services. There were also young people who came from the south
of Nigeria to work. They were also Christians and we had church
services together. We would worship God and sing each
Sunday. The villagers came to see and hear what was going
on. We were warmly received, and when the time came for us to
leave, the villagers were very sad. The women would cry tears
when I told them we were returning to Chad.
We returned to N'Djaména for a time, then my
husband was assigned to work in Bitkine. He worked several years
there and in 1989 we were assigned to work in Mongo.
During our second year, I was elected
president of a group of women, named Femmes de Charité
des Assemblées Chrétiennes du Tchad (Women of Charity of the
Christian Assemblies of Chad). My time as president passed
without any problems to speak of. It is a good thing to have a
women's group because women play an important role in all of
life. They can help the church in any situation that may
arise. Every Friday, we visit the women who have recently joined
our group, those who have just given birth, or those who have had a
death in their family. Sunday nights we have evangelism
meetings. The leaders of these meetings get together each
We have about forty women each Sunday even if
they change. I see new faces at every meeting. We are
obligated to have interpreters translate into several languages
because the women speak different languages. If the Bible verse
is found in the Old Testament we translate it into Arabic. If
the verse is found in the New Testament, we are not required to
translate it because the women from the south have their New Testament
in Sara and the women from this area have their New Testament in
We also perform skits for the Christmas
program. We will begin preparations for Christmas very early
this year! We also have regional gatherings of the Femmes de
Charité on the twelfth day of every third month.
I also work for Food for the Hungry in
rural development. I am very busy, but I also enjoy helping my
sisters who have not had the privilege of going to school. If
anyone has something they know, I believe it is important that they
share this so that others may learn it also.
I have seven children. The first one
died at one month old. The first child is always the most
difficult here. I have five brothers and six sisters. One
brother and one sister are now studying to be nurses.
I am also a guide for village
development for Food for the Hungry in Mongo. I began working in
the realm of health work, but this project was discontinued, and now
we work in the realm of agriculture. We travel on motorbikes or
in a car because the five villages where I go are quite far and I do
not want to walk to get there.
In each of these villages, the women are
organised and have established the rules that govern our
agreement. They get together every Monday or Friday. They
often meet at the president's house to discuss things and ask
questions. Every woman is also free to pull back from the group
as she wishes. If she does not wish to follow the established
rules, she can be asked to leave.
We now teach the women to cultivate their
groundnut fields with donkeys. Many people here work with
cattle. My family has a cow. However it is more difficult
to work with cattle - and more dangerous since they have horns.
This can be difficult, especially for a village women who is not used
to working with them.
We also tell them to keep the third of their
harvest for sowing next year. A woman will often say, "But
my harvest was so weak this past year and I have no grains to
spare." I tell them that it's all the same thing if a third
of the harvest is nothing more than a small tea glass full of
seeds. She needs to take these seeds and attach them in an old
piece of clothing or something else and set them aside for next
year. She must not make a meal with these grains. Long ago
people knew to do this but now, because of money and imported goods,
many sell their seeds and have nothing to plant the following year.
The women listen to us and do what we advise
them to do. We are often able to encourage them.
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