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5.10.11

Bien mangé, bien discuté! Day 3 of N'Djamena


Bonjour encore une fois ! Hello again !
As I have made very long posts about the first few days of my voyage, I will be providing an abbreviated capsule of today’s adventures.
Today began with a short training on Facebook for the local staff of the Embassy. The staff member and I worked on the Embassy’s French Facebook page. Anyone who knows me understands that tech training is my second passion. I enjoyed the linguistic workout as I have never explained Facebook pages in French. I guided the staffer through the new parameters and offered a few ideas for future posts.


At 11h00, I met with two members of the FAWE (Forum of Women Educationalists) organization. This organization is highly proficient in providing training to teachers and students about healthy living, school attendance, and family life. We discussed for nearly one and half hours our respective philosophies on retaining students. Additionally, we shared videos of our students. This perhaps will be one of the strongest contacts that I have made during the trip. Although we wish to remain in contact, the “directrices” of FAWE use a USB modem for their laptop. At midday, it was nearly impossible to load my basic home page. Fiber optics has arrived in the country, thanks to companies like Exxon and others, but due to the lack of electricity, computers become a challenge. The Catholic school that I visited yesterday has installed solar panels to run their computers, but there are no computers in the lab. If the school had inexpensive tablets, refurbished iPod Touches, or the $100 computer, perhaps the connectivity situation would be less of an issue. Regrettably, the predominance of generators in the poorer neighborhoods cause noise and air pollution. Wood is still a common energy source and N’Djamena is cutting down trees to fuel its needs. Perhaps you have ever heard of the cardboard/aluminum foil solar ovens that are used in Afghanistan. These ovens provide enough heat to cook meals and decrease the amount of wood needed. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, women are less obliged to leave their villages to search for wood, therefore reducing the exposure to physical harm and rape. Why these ovens are not used or known in N’Djamena is to be investigated.

Sharon and I enjoyed a delectable lunch at “Le Bistrot” on the Rue Charles de Gaulle. This restaurant/deli offers French cuisine (their version) and products of all delicacies, including the finer choices of alcohol! 
I had a “salade landaise” with lardons (salt pork) instead of duck and creamy dressing instead of the traditional dressing – basically, it wasn’t a real salade landaise, but it was appetizing. My plat principal was tournedos (beef) with a Roquefort (cheese) sauce.

Ridiculously well-fed, I prepared for the next visit to the ISCAM (Institut Supérieur de Commerce et d’Administration des Affaires et de Management). This school is for students who have completed their Baccalauréat diploma. It is housed in a three level building in a favorable area of N’Djamena. I met with the Secretaire general who informed me that classes did not begin until the 15th of October. My heart skipped a beat. Perhaps this was to be the case for many appointments – lack of students. However, after waiting for a half hour, the director led me into a large room with about twenty students. The director provided me with an Orange Fanta and a bottle of water – we were ready! 


My talk centered around the similarities between Mount Vernon and N’Djamena. These include absenteeism, early pregnancy, and dropout rates. My presentation was short, but to the point – females must be supported and treated as equals at school, at home, and in the professional environment. A good discussion followed with a few difficult questions that I, as a high school teacher, could not answer. The students and I agreed that to demonstrate the potential of women to the Chadian culture, they must provide concrete examples of their intentions and projects. Whereas ideas are plentiful, money and time is often wasted due to a lack of organization on the receiving end. The women that I have met in the past two days have proven that they can impose positive influence and impact in their communities with little support. With directed guidance and support, these women will lead their country toward a more democratic and organized society. And I was part of that discussion! A truly memorable day.
Dinner was a chicken club sandwich.

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