Living and working in Abeche is quite difficult. ‘Poor infrastructure and inconveniences it causes; a danger or an attack from bandits, or rebels; and a very hot, nearly unbearable climate; are not the main reason of it however’ thought Kacper. All of these things that Kacper had in his mind contribute to, and form a different problem, the main problem, in fact, and that is very few opportunities to interact with people around you.
It is this INTERACTION that Kacper likes the most about his job. It can have different forms, but whatever form it has, gives him energy and motivation for his work and happiness. Walking around busy market streets of Dhaka (Bangladesh), Harar (Ethiopia), or Luanda (Angola); observing people trading, drinking tea, sewing, fitting on new trousers or dresses; admiring smells of spices; looking at colourful and sometimes kitschy shop/stall displays; listening to noises of cars, bikes, animals… all of these and so many other impressions that Kacper could keep on listing for ages, made him happy and motivated.
So far, there has been very little of this interaction possible here in Abeche. Goz Beida was already much better in that respect, as his organisation implemented some projects there, which made it possible to visit those, and meet with people, see how they live and what they do. ‘However, Abeche was a town, which potentially has got lots of hidden charms that he has not yet discovered’ – decided Kacper.
Kacper’s organisation does not have ‘active projects’ in Abeche. The main office for Chad is located in this town, because Abeche is an administrative capital for eastern part of the country, and therefore was home to many institutions, agencies and organisations that Kacper and his colleagues needed to liaise with to do their work.
Abeche is not a safe town, by any standards. The insecurity has been steadily growing for many months. Carjacking, physical assaults, house robberies, and even killings of local population and international guests are very common. To minimise the risks of such attacks, or injuries, Kacper’s organisation implemented very strict security rules that all employees must follow. It is not allowed to walk anywhere; all movements are to be done in a car, and need to be monitored by a radio operator on duty (who follows where all the organisation’s cars are via the HF radio – kind of ‘walkie-talkie’). Effectively, it is nearly impossible to wander around, and loos yourself somewhere in a small street, where REAL LIFE happens.
Kacper knows however that the interaction that he so badly needs is not impossible. It always is, even in the toughest places, it is just a matter of discovering how to chip into local life in a manner that is safe and does not endanger anyone around you.
Today in the morning, Kacper had a little taste of it. On the way to the office, very early in the morning, his Belgian colleague Philippe had an appointment with a local journalist, who wanted to learn about the organisation’s activities in the country. Together with their driver, they went to meet her for a cup of tea, in one of the shops in her neighbourhood. That was such a great treat! They actually got a bit lost on the way, and needed to drive through small streets of older parts of Abeche. People were just waking up, and because of early morning hour, it was not too hot yet, which encouraged the residents sit outside their houses, on their little wooden benches. They all looked relaxed, and definitely friendly. People waved at them, children run behind their car with excitement, encouraging the other ones to follow – something unusual was happening on their street! These small signs of affection, and friendliness made Kacper feel like if he was in heaven for a little while.
The morning definitely made Kacper’s mood great, and now he is already thinking of how to keep the momentum of discovering the local life going. ‘Learning French, might be another opportunity’ thought Kacper. ‘Perhaps his teacher will be from Chad?’ he wondered, and he was sure that the more the better he speaks the language, the more he can interact with the office staff – drivers, or guards.
Yes, Kacper will start learning French!
PS. Kacper is thinking of his father in Poland, who is having his second session of the chemotherapy today. Fingers crossed!