Tag Archives: Chad

Lives of the Saints – International hardship duty in Chad.

Bredjing, a refugee camp in eastern Chad, close to the border with the Darfur region of Sudan. Twelve camps in the region house a quarter of a million Sudanese who have fled to the area and are now caught between warring armies. Photograph by Christoph Bangert.

The New Yorker has a lengthy article about aid workers in Chad.  @aidworkersntwk Twittered this a few hours ago.  I worked with Yvan in Chad in the early days of 2004.  Like others in my line of work I arrived alone at 3am with a backpack and a hotel reservation to set-up operations before our advance team arrived a week later.  Ah, fond memories of brutal heat, great food and lots of sand.  But are we really saints?  When I have time I’ll read it in full.  From the article:


Everything is fine, until the moment when it is not. And when that moment comes it can be very quick and very bad.

This is what Aiméry Mbounkap tells me on a Saturday afternoon in November of 2007. Mbounkap works as a site planner for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He is a robustly built man of about thirty, an architect by training and saturnine by disposition. We are sitting in the common room of a U.N.H.C.R. field office situated on the eastern frontier of the African nation of Chad, thirty-five miles from the Darfur border. Along that border, the U.N.H.C.R. oversees the operation of twelve refugee camps with a population of nearly two hundred and fifty thousand Sudanese who have fled to Chad to escape death, mayhem, and ethnic cleansing.

Read on…

Nokia N95 + Qik + Chad = not happening

Ok, here’s another one from WIRED magazine’s DangerRoom.  Sorry to pitch two of their posts in the same week but the guy is in Chad and I start getting all sentimental when I read his dispatches.  I sure do miss Guereda and the French MRE’s.

David Axe has a story about his attempt to use the video streaming service Qik on his Nokia N95 while on assignment in Chad.  I think we all could have guessed the outcome but this guy actually went out there, sweatedit out, and proved it.  Read the full story HERE.

‘Chad’s Courteous Phone Thieves’

WIRED magazine’s DangerRoom blog has a great article on Thuraya’s getting ripped off in Chad:

“If you’ve ever spent an entire day trying, and failing, to make one important phone call, as I just did here in sunny Chad, you might understand how tenuous communications are in a place like Central Africa.

So it’s no wonder that Thuraya satellite phones are among the hottest items in the whole region … and why these handy little phones are at the top of bandits’ and rebels’ wish lists.”

Read on

Ode to Skype

Skype Logo

Of all the applications I have had the pleasure of using over the years one stands out above all the rest. Skype has been the aid worker’s friend for quite some time and has saved organizations countless dollars and perhaps even a few lives. The call quality is nearly perfect and you can’t beat the $0 price tag. A few highlights…

1) Sitting in my office in LA speaking with an associate in Chad who was sitting on a bed, at night, in the courtyard of her compound and connected to a VSAT via WiFi. I could hear the wind whistling through the tree branches above her.

2) We rolled out Skype at my previous organization’s HQ and found that for a 1hr conference call between two US cities, two European cities and one African city we were saving approximately $300/hr. We estimated a savings of $1500-2000/day with greatly increased communications.

3) After the Nias Island, Indonesia earthquake in April of ’05 the mobile towers were jammed for about 1hr in Medan, North Sumatra. However, Skype was running just fine when we returned to our desks and within minutes I had found an associate in Portland, OR who was up early and I passed on all the specifics. He immediately threw together an email notification and sent it off to a number of organizations. About 30 minutes later the story slowly began to appear on the international news sites.

Skype is an invaluable tool and while it may have recently taken a big hit in valuation it sure has my vote as one of the best humanitarian tools out there.