I survived Tchad

So I'm aware that I've been very lame about posting for the last month since I went off secondment and began traveling again.  (For the record I did blog a restaurant review on my other blog African Nights so I wasn't a complete slacker.)  My first trip post-Nairobi secondment was to Tchad.  Yes, that is a real country.  It's landlocked between Sudan, Libya, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Central African Republic.  They host refugees from both Sudan and CAR. 

It was one of the more... hairpulling headbanging trying countries I've traveled.  In addition to processing from the middle of nowhere, southern Tchad the accommodations were...rustic.  The generator only worked some of the time and when it did it was only scheduled during office hours and 2 hours in the evening; meaning we had to get ready for work in the dark and sit and sweat after work in the dark.

You thought I was joking about the whole no electricity thing.
It was about 100F daily (approximately 39-40 for you Celsius people) and we worked from a large concrete room with no fans (except the one we were forced to buy to cool our server).  So we sweat and we interviewed.  I actually really like my job, but, I'm not going to lie, this was a difficult refugee population and I felt like I was constantly frustrated and impatient because of the circumstances as well as feeling sick most of the trip (Harvey returned with a vengence.  I was later diagnosed with "mild" salmonella typhoid, a bacterial infection, and worms.).  

There were highlights: 1) the first two days and the final day of our trip were spent in the capital N'Djamena where we had electricity, internet, and aircon; 2) I did not get malaria like several of my colleagues despite being eaten alive by mosquitoes; 3) I didn't die of carbon monoxide poisoning from my kerosene lamp; 4) I can now say I have been part of an armed convey; 5) we finished processing early and got to return to Nairobi 3 days before expected; and 6) we were not killed in a horrific road accident (it's apparently a leading cause of death in the country and after two 9-12 hour road trips I understand the high fatality rate).

This said I am anticipating my trip back to the States to celebrate Thanksgiving next week and time to reflect on what it is I am doing with my life.  Is liking what I do enough?  I'm not going to let one difficult mission get me down but after coming off a rewarding but taxing secondment I am also not sure what it is I want going forward.  Should I return to my former career of fundraising/ donor relations?  I'm not a huge fan of concept of "fundraising" in African countries since it usually encourages a dependence on western donor countries rather than looking for ways to cultivate donors locally.  I'm also not necessarily looking to return to the US but am open to working in other developing regions outside of Kenya.  Is there a way to incorporate my past work experience with my desire to be more immersed in the human rights field?  Thoughts?  Suggestions?


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