This was the first Chadian
woman I ever met the first morning I arrived in Chad. She worked
with the Mennonite Central Committee at that time and was always very
nice and patient with the new volunteers who generally arrive very
confused. That first morning, we went to the market and I
remember following her beautiful laffaye (veil) as we passed through
the maze of mud that was the central market of N'Djaména.
For two and a half years I continue to
admire Tamar because she faces life with courage. Her smile
illuminates her face and she always offers an encouraging word.
I come from Mokoulou village. My mother
is Mokoulou and my father is a Sara. I grew up in Mokoulou and
My grandfather worked with the first
missionaries. He worked for many years to the point of being
sick before he died. But before dying, he asked my father to
stay in the Guéra to continue his work for the Saviour.
Thus, my father was also an evangelist as his
father was. He did not go to school, but had been educated by
the missionaries, taught at the private school in Mokoulou and also
He married my mother and they moved to a
village named Djikatchet. But there were also rebels in the
region and my father, a southerner, was suspected of being on the side
of the government. In reality, he did not agree with the
president in power. But the villagers warned my father that the
rebels wanted to kill him. This is why he escaped with his
family to go to Bitkine. And the rebels burned his house down
with all the things in it: millet, groundnuts...
From then on we lived in Bitkine, and from
there my father went to other villages to proclaim the Gospel.
When he found people interested in the Gospel, he helped them build a
church. He taught the baptismal courses. He continued
despite all the difficulties. He still evangelises today, in
Bailli among the Bagirmi and other ethnic groups that live
I went to primary school in Bitkine and went
on to Level Six after having obtained my certificate. There was
a women's school in N'Djaména. Six months later, however, the
civil war broke out and we returned to the Guéra.
During this time I got married. I was
fifteen and a half years old. I went to school in Mongo and my
husband was finishing his studies in Sarh in the south of the
country. He would walk from Sarh to Bitkine. There were no
means of transportation during the war. But the Southerners were
threatened by the Hadjeraï here, just as the Hadjeraï were being
threatened in the south. My husband continued his walk all the
way to N'Djaména (about 500 km or 310 mi). But when all was
again calm, he came back and we were assigned to work in Ati.
That is where I was in Level Three and obtained my School Certificate.
I was also pregnant with twins. We were
concerned and thought about returning to Bitkine for the
delivery. I was eight months along in my pregnancy and the
midwife told me I will probably have twins since I weighed more than
50 kg (134 pounds). I gave birth in Ati on the 30th of
September, and the twins are now ten years old.
After a year and a half in N'Djaména, my
husband was assigned to teach in the Guéra and we returned to
Mokoulou, where he served in his second teaching post. We moved
several times between Mongo and Bitkine. In 1987 the Hadjeraï
were again threatening him. My husband walked once again all the
way to N'Djaména. God really watched over him. He would
sometimes walk through the wilderness. He sometimes passed near
to military posts. And then the children and I travelled in a
truck to join him in N'Djaména. After this, we were assigned to
work in the Lake Chad region for a year. We have now been in
N'Djaména for six years. My husband is still teaching in the
Life in N'Djaména is very, very
expensive. I work with several missionaries and have been a
volunteer teacher for five years now at my husband's side. The
sewing skills I learned also help me. I now have a sewing
machine. I have a small storefront against the wall of our
concession. I can sew pants and dresses.
Despite all this, life is difficult
here. Before, teachers were paid regularly. At times we
live six to seven months without my husband's salary. This makes
me want to return to village life. When in the village, we can
go look for firewood in the wilderness. We can take water from
the well for free. We can grind our own grain to have
flour. In town, we must pay the mill to grind our grain as well
as for our firewood (to cook our food). Even water must be
bought from one of the spigots in town. It costs 5 CFA
(about 0.01 € or US$0.01) for each pail of water. The spigots
belong to businessmen whom we must pay to have water. I walk
about 100 metres (328 feet) to fetch water. I make several trips
each day and pay 5 CFA for each 25 litre (5.5 gallon) pail...
One time, we spent two days without enough
food so that each person could have a taste. We have fifteen
persons in three little rooms. There is my husband and myself,
our children and the members our larger family. We are used to
it, but it is really very tight quarters. Each family here
shelters their brothers, cousins and others.
I do not have any work right now; from time
to time the Mennonite Central Committee or another organisation will
come to let me know they have some work for me. But because I
work from time to time with foreigners, other friends and family
members think that I have money. They constantly come asking me
for 100 CFA for 50 CFA. And it is very difficult to say, "I
do not have any money." Even if we have only a little to
spare, we are forced to share it.
There is also a lot of insecurity in
N'Djaména. Not long ago, a brother from the Guéra was taking a
walk with a friend. They met two men who tried to stop them to
do them harm. The man from the Guéra refused, and they killed
him. He had his identity card on him, which is why his death was
announced on the radio, and his family went to the police station to
get his body. Here, there is no security. It was better in
the village. At least one can take a walk without fear.
I have six children. The last one is
name Anita because it was while I worked with my friend Anita
Hostetler with the Mennonite Central Committee that I was expecting.
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