Voyage to the Tchad
Madeleine Cirerol Golliard
- Part third – Third letter -
Hello my friends !
I take the most of the little
spare time we have to write this kind of journal. Now that my colleagues
nominate me as their official chronicler, I feel the responsibility to report
at least a little each day about all what occurs during our adventure. We have
so much to do in a present so intense, that it results truly difficult to find
continue. Eighty-four women are a lot of women and a lot of stories.
And, sadly, also a lot of diseases: back, knees, chest and infections.
Yesterday was the worst of the
days, the most dramatic. A woman was pregnant. Her name is Kussa.
She is perhaps the most sympathetic and funny woman of the group: she danced in
spite of her big belly. But time was at end and she had to go to the hospital.
The hospital here is very disgusting, it resembles a concentration camp. She stood there
all the day long and gave birth, at dusk, to a she dead
baby. You cannot imagine in what state of dereliction this hospital is left. There
are a midwife (the only person having a more or lest clean aspect) and a male
nurse. Patients are giving no water, no meals, no bed sheets, nothing at all.
She lays on row plastic without nobody coming to
auscultate the baby. Really dreadful !!! If in a
hospital like this you have no family, no friendly person to take care of you,
you can die !!! ...
One of the group women
remained with her and, between course and course, we were going to see and
bring her food and drinks. The scene when I first saw her was so painful ! It was at the very time the baby sprinted out, a so
lovely little girl! The tragedy is she was dead. We went to burry her in Manolo’s garden, because newborns are not allowed in the
cemetery around the church. Never would I forget this interment
! : It is etched on my memory for ever.
The Tchad is where the most of
women and babies die in childbirth, from the whole Africa.
Surely, in our land, with an ultra sound scan and a ceasarean
operation, the baby would have been safe and alive. But here, the scanner purchased
for the hospital by Manolo’s friends from Saragossa, is closed under
key when the doctor is not there; and, he is almost always absent.
Now, let us comment something
more pleasant. Yesterday, we gave the practical lesson of artemisia’s
tee elaboration. At first, dividing the women in three
groups. Each group preparing a fire. Then, the
women having attended the course in February, made a demonstration. They have
it very clear : the doses, the process, etcetera... And
all the women tried the infusion between songs and laughs; each group competing
to make the best tee. I have a video of the scene.
I told you not having been able to take
photos; but that was during the way (and I took some). Once here, all is
different and I have a lot of them, also videos.
I have to say that the ones
who came with “palu” and became ill: five women and
two children (one was very sick). They took artemisia tee and now they feel
much better. That does not mean others may fall ill, too. The illness is latent
into them and at the first defence drop, becomes apparent.
In the afternoon lesson, the
theme was epilepsy. Luz had a very well illustrated video about the care to
give to the persons when they have a crisis. Here, but only little by little,
most of all in Catholic communities, the mentality is changing; but taboo
stands still in a great part of the society where ill children are put away,
are not allowed to live together with others, because they consider them
possessed by bad spirits that may transmigrate into who approach them. Nobody
takes care if they fall in the fire and most of the time their people abandon
them. We heard about dreadful stories.
day we fare four times the seven kilometres that separates Kyabé
from Tatemoe. We become used to the landscape : the airport, an outrageously
red space for small flies; the big trees seen lofty in the ever blue sky ...
birds and oxes drinking in the pool, in a pool that is drying up day by day;
the children waiting for us at the entrance of the village, shouting : “Lalé,Lalé !!!” ... In spite of the dry herb, there are a
lot of green bushes and trees. Among them, many Karités resembling our almond trees.
looks like it is a lot of time we are here, all is so intense and we are so
deeply immersed in this reality that we find difficult to assimilate that we
must leave this coming Sunday.
morning, Jean Gabo, the person in charge of the
artemisia theme, has been explaining to us which are the cares to take when
sawing and planting artemisia, expounding the difficulties he found. He is very
careful with all he does. He tries a manner, then another manner; an epoch then
another epoch for
the sowing,; taking notes of all. By little groups, the women were allowed to
visit the greenhouse. There were little plants emerging and other who are
already blooming. I saw a woman furtively taking seeds and saving them like a
second part of the lesson was about ablation. “Excision” is calling here; and
in Sacaraba language : “Kaja”. This is a delicate theme but not new for them. There
is one woman, Gney, forming part of a group of fifteen
persons who go among the villages to speak with women about ablation. She says
that among Christian communities it is prohibited to mutilate girls, under penalty
of expulsion. But it is still in practice under cover. The very sad result of
this is that the girls who have not been mutilated became a pain in the neck
until their mothers allow them to endure ablation. What surprised me is that
they don’t do want it to please men ; this is not a
problem for them as they can marry being mutilated or not. What is a great
preoccupation for them is that, being not mutilated, the others girls
marginalize them saying : “you stink, go away”.
told us a lot about this. They have it clear that because of the ablation they
have to suffer a lot more when giving birth. When Luz asked about how they
endure sexual relations without pleasure, how do they support them? All wanted
to answer her. One of them told that when her husband left, a weak before his
return she was already ill. Then, Luz asked the others, the one that had not
may think, answered a woman, that we are enjoying our man all days like queens
... (laughs) ... It is not so simple, even for us. But
we talk about it with the other women and things are going better after meeting
and listening to each other.
... I have a surprise to tell you:
our last encounter, on February, we searched despairingly in our minds, what we
could tell them when asking us what to do to avoid having more children. Then,
remembering the women of the Andes using sponges
imbibed with vinegar, is what finally I proposed.
gave them all explanations needed using drawings. And back home, we send for
them to the visitor’s centre in Djamena, some sponges a
upholsterer from Palma
made for us. But we never got some notice about it. It is difficult to obtain
some clues when priests and nuns are involved.
the group of today there are some women that attended the last meeting. We
asked one who speak some French if she made the
experience and what occurred with it. The answer was very positive
: “Five years without giving birth !!! “ ... From the twelve women we
taught, only three made use of it, and all three with success
!!! ... Only that they used lemon instead of vinegar... You cannot
imagine how happy I was hearing this news !!!
remains now is to find a material here that can be used as a sponge, something
cheap and not toxic, in order women can self controlled it and don’t need to
depend on us.
we had to inform them about anti-conception. This has been the theme in the
afternoon. Luz exposed and explained all the different methods. It is possible
now to obtain the pill here, but we don’t now which one. The better and cheaper
we told them, is to use the sponge. Monique
volunteered to tell her experience.
we go to rest very satisfied. It is like closing a circle. They tell us we have
to return... Now that our struggle is giving fruits : to return have a sense.
This meeting has been very important to the women.
Tomorrow morning we make a summary; and, in the afternoon, a farewell
party. Maria had some money given to her to organize the party and Manolo worked “the miracle” to obtain 120 coca-colas and 40
“Fantas” in bottles of one litter for the children.
time I shall write a little more.
now, my love to all of you.
(What an aberration
!!! : giving to these poor people
in need of all in question of alimentation, these beverages that have only
a commercial value, makes me feel sad. I have to tell it. Mineral water or any juice
from a natural fruit would had been a more salutary
option. – Note from the editor of AIR)
* * *
This was an English version by Mariette
Wonderful this picture of the pond taken by Madeleine.