Pictures are courtesy http://www.yahoo.com/ under the Chad Unrest Slideshow.
02/07/08: Nate here again. It is around 1:00 AM and I just got off the phone with Reuben, Pastor Christophe Hadama and my mom. I was able to conference all of us together. My phone is able to conference in up to 5 numbers which has proved to be extremely helpful in getting news and coordination our efforts. Here's the latest:
- Pastor Christophe has been able to use the first installment to buy bags of rice (100kg) and bread ($50 worth) for the group of people assembled at his church and those surrounding it. There are mostly children in the group. He estimates to have about 400 to 500 people in his direct care not counting those who are around the church. In total $200 of the initial $400 I sent has been spent. Some of the money has been donated to other Pastor's in the area that need to tend to their increased fold. The remaining $200 will be spent today for more food. That will get them through Thursday and part of Friday.
- We have raised $1050 thus far in named pledges. I do have more pledges but no numbers attached as of yet so we really have more than that, I just don't know how much yet. Out the remaining $640 named pledges, I have $450 cash on hand which I am sending today. The remaining $200 is coming either by check or has not made it to Pay Pal yet.
- Prices in Kousseri have doubled and tripled in some cases due to the high demand for resources so quickly.
- Though water in Kousseri is becoming a problem due to the influx of people, there is a water well with a pump at Pastor Christophe's church so water is not a problem so far.
- Since the situation in Kousseri is not the best, understatement I know, there are people (don't really know how many) heading back to N'djamena to try and put the pieces of their lives back together. I have been listening to French radio and resident's in N'djamena who have money are having a very difficult time buying food and supplies. Many remain in Kousseri.
- Reuben has stated that he will hang around Kousseri for a few more days or at least until my dad gets there and figure out what to do then. He is currently the point man for Exxon Mobile in Kousseri to aid Chadian employees and their families with salary payments and other benefits. Reuben has been taking first hand accounts of the situation as well as the food distribution but is not able to send them to me at the moment. As soon as I get my hands on them, I will post them. It is a testament to all of your prayers and support.
- We are still waiting to hear word from my dad. He should be in Paris shortly and then on his way to Cameroon.
- The political situation in Chad is what it is. I say that because there are so many articles and opinion pieces that to try and sum them up would be very difficult to do. I would encourage you to go to Google and search "N'djamena" or "Republic of Chad" in the news section for more info. For Chadian specific website, the ones I follow daily are: http://www.afriquecentrale.info/index.htm, http://allafrica.com/chad/, http://www.jeuneafrique.com/. The last two are in French, so my apologies to those who won't find them very useful.
I just want to say that I have a new respect for humanitarian workers. I can't imagine what a tough job it is to get logistics straight, communicate effectively, estimate number of people and track people movement. I ask Reuben to give me an estimate and he says "A whole bunch like what you see on TV." Not to make fun but that is how difficult numbers are right now. We are doing our best to keep track of everything we are doing so we can send out a more detailed report sometime in the future.
I'm an Information Technology Project Manager in the commercial nuclear power field and this is by far the toughest assignment I have ever had thrust upon me but nothing has given me such joy and purpose even though it is an ugly situation.
Finally, I just want to say how amazed and humbled Sarah and I are at the response from our friends and those we don't even know but who know our parents or someone in Chad. You have been a much needed support through prayer and donations. We can't begin to express our gratitude to you. Even as the United Nations High Commission of Refugee's is begining it's important work of restabilizing the area, you have been part of a grass roots movement to feed people in the darkest moments. Technology has been an incredible resource during this surprise conflict but your response, by the Grace of God is what truely made the difference.
Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers. We will be in touch.