Voyage to the Tchad
by Madeleine Cirerol Golliard
- English version by Mariette -
- Part fourth – Fourth letter
Hello my dears:
Surely, this is my last
tomorrow. After breakfast, Manolo will take us to Sarth, a city bigger than Kyabé, at
some hundred kilometres from here, running on a bad road, happily compensated by
a charming river crossing by ferry.
There, we would
spend the night in a religious house and the next morning ,
at 8, we shall fly to D’jamena in a light aircraft.
This will make us win a lot of time. The journey by car from Sarth to D’jamena is endless. After
spending a day at the Kabalay (the religious house where we stood
in our outward journey); at dusk, we shall take the fly Paris-Madrid-Palma and
arrive at destination around three o’clock.
Today has been a
farewell day. This morning , the women have made a
balance of what they have learn, by groups. They are happy. They say their
knowledge increased a lot during this course.
When you know
about the hard living of these courageous women, the balance sheet is no more a
cold amount of data, it acquires their name and visage .
Each one of
these women had at least to face one death from malaria at home. They have really
a very hard life.
To take an example:
Gney gave birth to nine children and only four are
still alive. The others died at four or five years old. And many of them suffer
the same fate. When you ask a woman how many children she has, she uses to
answer: “X” deliveries “X” living.
Another women told us that she had endured thirteen miscarriages,
not induced. She wants to stop this turnout of pregnancies but doesn’t know
how. It is normal for them to give birth every year; and, when they reach the
menopause, they may already have had thirteen or more children.
a beautiful woman serving us as translator, is telling us that she has twenty
grand-children. She says that one of her daughters was attending school because
she wants to be professor. It is very expensive here to study. She obtained a
teacher diploma; but, to receive it, she has to present herself. She has to go
to D’jamena and a journey from Kiabé
to D’jamena, on an Arab camion, sitting on top of the
loaded goods, costs 50.000 Fr. (about 85 euros) and this amount we have not –
she said. For a girl it is difficult already, to gain admittance to the school.
She could afford it and now it looks like it was a lost of time. It is really
dreadful. All the efforts she did to succeed redound to nothing if she cannot
go for the diploma in the prescribed delay. ... ... But, because Suzanne has
been a great big-hearted help to us during the whole course, we give her some
As you see, the
theme of the Artemisia is vital here; it is being of great help to the women’s living.
They take the little seed bag we give each of them like it was a treasure.
When the seeds shall grow up in the dedicated breeding ground, they
would be awarded with little plants. Unhappily, we have to say that the climate
here is very dry and the artemisia loves humidity.
It is late
tonight for us because we had a farewell party in Tatemoe: supper, theatre,
tam-tam dance, etcetera. So now we go to rest .
I hug you all
See you soon
– Fifth and last letter –
Hi everybody :
At home again !
But they ask me
to write the last page of our report.
Here Internet is
fast, so I take the opportunity to send you some photos.
easier than going, because we had now the chance to join the last fly of the O.N.U.’s light aircraft from Sarth
to D’jamena, which cuts the way a lot of. But I loved
our long outward
and so interesting voyage to Kyabé. For me, it is worth to penetrate in a new land
little by little as we did.
I remember my
great surprise at seeing
the little villages under the mangos
in my first voyage. They were just the same as the ones I had seen as a
child in the missionary revues my grand mother used to receive
We left Kyabé in an overloaded Toyota camion. At the
rear were the Butano bottles, two gas cylinder;
twelve women with their bulges; some of them with babies, too; making ourselves comfortable the better we
could. At the middle of the women was sitting María. She was squashed but that doesn’t matter for
her; what disgusts her is that she was unable to understand their language.
Each woman left when we pass through her village. The roads, if it is
possible to call them like this, were dreadful. They tried to fit them by
throwing clayey ground on them and, as a result, they are much worse now. No wonder we got a puncture.
THE ROADS. photo sent by Malén
In the Tchad, the camions of the Arabs are always overloaded and as
they have no mean to hoist the vehicle, they make a big hole on the road when
they have to repair a puncture. You can imagine the state of the road
afterwards. They do the same everywhere without caring ,
also if the road is an asphalted one.
But Manolo is cautious. He took a jack with
him, two spare wheels and
the efficient aide of Narcis, a good
We had to change the wheel. In the meantime, when we were working on it,
the women looked for a shaded place. They found it and instead of complaining
for the delay, they put themselves to sing and dance. Even two of them made a little wrestling show.
They were still enjoying when they heard the call :
– Passengers to the camion!
All the women left the car smiling and clapping their hands on ours as
a sign of friendship, when approaching their homes. The last one left when we
arrived to the village near the river, which marks the end of the big parish of
Manolo – covering an extension of ten times the Isle Majorca
We crossed the river on the “Bac” – name of the ferry –. That was surely be the last time we did it,
because they are building a bridge to allow people to go one part to another
more comfortably. But if I return someday. I shall yearn
not to be able to cross the river on the romantic “Bac”
It was dusk when we arrived to Sarth. María expresses the
impression we had at entering the litttle town like
this: “This looks like a bombarded city. Hardly lighted.
Tradition there provides no maintenance. One of the principal causes is
the lack of means. They do things and let them deteriorate since they fall in
ruin. They are never repainted or repaired. In the “brousse”
(savannah) instead, thatched roofs are remade more or less every two years.
We spent the night at the religious house “Maison
d’Accueil” and the day after, we had to wait four
long hours for a flight to D’jamena in a tumbledown
airport controlled by soldiers. The
soldiers where just planted there, doing nothing profitable at all. Instead they were trying to get
Luz into trouble , only because they found
her taking photos
“on their ground ! ” of some ants and birds. I wonder what damage we
could make with these photos to their “precious” airport.
Despite this disturbance, we were lucky because we could make in two
hours the distance that had lasted four days in our coming journey.
And we are standing again by our good sisters (religious) of D’jamena that always have been so kindly to us.
Here we meet interesting persons. This time it is the turn of a Catalan priest.
He tells us about the struggle he endured during many years to provide schooling
education to the children of the city (boys and girls). After fighting all these years
, the result is that now a 80% of the children are attending school,
when in the beginning there were only a 19%. But the education is quite insufficient.
They have nothing , not even passable teachers. It consists only of a lost of time for the
children, who are treated like parrots.
Next morning, after breakfast, we met an Italian woman, who said to
belong to a group that recycles teachers... This theme interested María a lot because she dreams to do something
After a repairing night and a risky walk in the never reassuring
market, we took a fly Paris-Madrid-Palma. Now we face again
involved the shock of the return. In spite of the primitive living in
the Tchad, where life and death are struggling every day against each other; in spite of the ravaging illness; in spite of the lack of food sometimes; we
find it preferable to our sophistication.
We have a lot to say, a lot to balance... ...
Thinking about the many lives already saved and the lot that would be saved in
the future thanks to the artemisia,
makes us happy and satisfied. It has been worth to give them those “miraculous”
seeds. But the idea goes far: we struggle to break taboo about epilepsy, female
circumcision, contraception, etcetera.
We fell recompensed with their joyful human
warm; their longing for knowledge; their capacity to overcome difficulties;
THE BALANCE IS POSITIVE !!!
Our next goal is to obtain a prospering cultivation. Perhaps a drip
would do ... but first we have to find the money...
Love to all of you
F I N
The Tchad is divided into three distinct zones,
savanna in the south, the Sahara
Desert in the north,
and the Sahelian belt in Chad's center.
A lecture in the shadow