Voyage to the Tchad

by Madeleine Cirerol Golliard

(English version by Mariette)

 

– Part two –

 

Here we are, my dear friends :

In Kyabé, organizing this first formation week, with 80 women.

 

We choose TATEMOE’s village for our first acclimatization and sowing experiences with the artemisia. We are successful : no malaria during the late rain season! Meanwhile on the other part of the river. 150 children died because of that terrible illness in a few months. This means that what we are doing is good and gives us strength to continue fighting. Thanks to this miraculous plant we have been able to save lots of lives who would have disappeared without it. Be sure we will not stop doing it until we win the disease. There are still a lot of women to meet and ask about their own experiences with the seeds we gave them in February.

 

Yesterday, in Tatemoe, the peasants were collecting sorghum. It was a colourful spectacle that pleased us grandly.

 

This year there was too little rain. The harvest is not satisfactory. And to make it still worse, marauding Gypsy’s oxen are everywhere, eating the little that reached to germinate, ruining the fields. We saw it with our own eyes.

 

So much trouble just to be able to eat !!!

 

 

To all of you I send my love.

Madeleine

End of the first letter

 

 

 

 

This is the Airport, where the planes are landing.

 

Second letter

 

December 5th, 2011

Even more women are arriving; and more, and more. A lot of them wearing a baby on their back. Coming from afar, from distances up to 150 kilometres. Some come walking; others sitting on the load of camions. The Arabs are the ones who own the camions and voyage dealing from a market to another. They are commercial people. Through our mentality it is difficult to understand how these women could endure so much. They are capable to walk kilometres long with heavy loads on top of their heads and a child on their back.

 

Now ninety women are already here, ten more than expected.  They come singing, offering a colourful, joyful, moving spectacle, which we shall never forget.

 

We spend this first day introducing ourselves and sharing news about the behaviour of the artemisia we brought them with our last journey.

 

Fortunately, news are good, seeds grew up. They made and distributed tee with the plants, which avoided them having to go to the hospital during the last rain season. In their villages, there are still remaining a lot of superstitions about malaria and all kind of illnesses. They told us that when the fever caught them, they have hallucinations: they fell attacked by big crocodiles and by tiny little beings who beat them. I think that this is the ground where superstitions are forged.

 

The course we gave in February had brought a legitimate offspring. The women ensured us that they took the infusions during seven consecutive days; that they give some of it to their families and neighbours. We find difficulty to believe they could have enough for so many people. But, what is true is that they spent the rain season without falling ill; which is not the case for the villages on the other side of the river, where a lot of people have died from the disease.

 

December 6th, 2011

Second day of the course

We are teaching some hours in the morning and half an hour in the afternoon. When it is possible, we prefer to meet outside, under the mangos’ shadow. We have to accept being constantly interrupted by nurses bringing new babies needing to be breast fed by their mothers. Hens and ducks are coming around  showing us their chicks and eating the tiny pieces of food they find scratching the ground.

 

Confidence is reinforcing and talking increases. I begin to distinguish who is who among the whole of them.

 

The principal theme of today is the tradition in their medicine: sorcerers, shamans; good ones and bad ones; the ones who really cure and the ones who take you in just to have your money; and still worse, the ones who oblige you to have sex with them as a remedy. There are just few sensible wiser ones. It is a pity because they know the true benefits of the plants and are the  only  ones  capable  to  maintain and cure health.   Don’t  let yourself be taken in. You may recognise the good ones at the fact they ask the minimum or nothing in exchange of their help.

 

What is terrible in those villages is that inhabitants consider  women planting seeds of medicine plants around their houses, as sorcerers and nobody would approach them anymore. The same occurs when an ill woman refuses to be seen by one of those bad quacks.

 

The wisdom they had in the past is disappearing because of their taboos and the introduction of our occidental medicine.

 

There are still women in the Tchad that conserved the wisdom. They know accurately about plants and roots, the ones who cures and the ones who are dangerous but in a tiny and expert manner can make a person survive from a bad illness. The plants are the natural medicine given to us. They are affordable and cause no bad secondary effect. I think they must be present and I would say that it is a need to go back to them and use them always when possible, avoiding what our “capitalist” methods introduce in our bodies.

 

After speaking deeply about all these interesting matters, the women, in spite of having really a very difficult life in their villages, wanted to let us know how much they were enjoying the meeting, giving us a marvellous demonstration of their popular skills : dances, springs, laughs; they show us also the high guttural utter cries that only them are able to hurl.

 

I don’t want to bore you with all details. I am telling just the principal ones, the ones who impressed us the most.

 

And still at the end of the journey, we found time to stretch out thighs: knees, necks, and a deformed leg of a little girl.

 

No need to say that at dusk we are very tired, but happy for what we have achieved. It makes us proud to see that what we are doing helps these wonderful women so vital, so full of energy, to have a life a little better.

 

 

 

Yesterday a woman arrived just at time to give birth to her seventh child; and this, after having walked during a lot of kilometres. It is a boy and his name will be Manolo. At noon, today, we went to take both of them. She is happy to be with us and the baby is healthy. Her she-companions are taking care of her and the child.

 

But life is life and not always good. Same time Manolo was born  another child died, after being lodged during six months in her mother’s belly. Life and death are a constant here.

 

Even tough, the women are celebrating our meeting. They are happy to stay away from husband and children during a time. At their village, they have no time to rest, always working, and working hard. They must do all what the family needs to live, without the support of our accommodations. They have no machines, no electricity, nothing at all but their two hands. And they are so glad to learn, new knowledge have no price for them. They are intelligent and skilled, able to learn very fast.

 

About us, we can say our health is good. In spite of  being prepared to fight them, some insects are stinging us. We take   artemisa and vitamin B every day and it helps. We eat rice, chicken and fish at each meal and as a sweet for the dessert Manolo shares with us the nougat he received. Strangely, here there is no possibility to find any sort of vegetables or fruits.

 

Today my friends wan all records going to sleep at 20h.30 ... I cannot go to bed so early, in spite we have to get up at six in the morning. In the villages of the Africans, there is no electricity.   The light of the sun is ruling their lives.

 

Far away from Rajoy, we are happy ; in spite we cannot prevent some of the news to reach us.

 

I am sending you the best of my experience, hoping not to take too much of your time. For me writing these letters is also a manner to save memories

With  my love to all of you.

Madeleine

 

 

 

 

Some of the women attending the meetings

(Photo sent by Madeleine)