Thursday evening after a long day–travel from Amelyouna to Bredjing camp (~30,000 refugees), two sets of interviews followed by an introduction to the local police authority, who yelled for thirty minutes at a group who was also there for some breach of protocol with his pistol right beside him. For some reason, I was seated directly in front of him. When the other group left, he was all smiles and welcome. It seems there was a theft of some vehicles near Hadjer Hadid by local criminals, but a rumor got around that it was the rebels, who have been active in the South, and no one listened to him when he insisted that rebels were nowhere near. The vehicles were returned.
The rebel activity directly affects us. We will not be able to travel to Goz Amer, a camp we meant to visit in the Southern border region. This is disappointing, and with the theft of the vehicles today has put our group and our hosts on edge. We had planned to return to Abeche, the regional center, for a little R & R tomorrow, but our hosts advise us to minimize travel, so we will stay the weekend here and travel there Tuesday once our work in this area (which now includes a third camp, Treguine) is done. The challenges of working in Chad. Communication and coordination is also a problem. We asked that our hosts organize our interviews with children by brining parents along with the children so that we can ask their permission to talk with them. When children with no parents arrived, we explained that we really could not talk to them about difficult subjects without parental permission. In order to counter the protest that parents cannot come with their children because they need to look for work, we had consent forms in Arabic given to those who were recruiting the children, and they reported back that parents didn’t believe the consent forms, telling them that we were going to take their children to Israel. We asked that these parents to come and visit us tomorrow. Another challenge, perhaps more problematic for our project, is the rumor that UNHCR has started resettling refugees to other countries. As far as I know this is not true. But if strange white people show up in a camp and ask about vulnerabilities in this context, you can bet that the people think there’s an opportunity. We had a few young men come up and directly ask to be taken to university in “Amrika.”
Hadjer Hadid means iron stone, and you can see it in the purple rocks surrounding the small town. Strange isolated hills of them dot the landscape, some up to 100 feet high. Like Amelyouna, the NGOs are situated on the outskirts of town, and each has thier compound with varying degrees of louche. Word gets around quickly about where to get what. The most coveted is wireless access. It’s impressive it’s even out here. There were five of us in the room during the time I was there. Some compounds have a few tukuls (huts) and no electricity.
Lights off–the generator was just shut down for the evening. I’m outside in the breeze, looking forwards to a cool sleep beneath the night sky. I’d like to tell you it’s filled with stars, but it’s really overcast. This is not quite the romance of the desert, but it’s better during the day–keeps the temperature out of the 110s.