Chad volunteers: “ We have not yet really landed , we continue being there”

They landed in Madrid last weekend. Their smile confirms the tranquillity with which they have faced the circumstances but their eyes show the joy for everything they have learnt in this short period of time and certain sadness for having been forced to abandon this project in which they had placed so much hope and for which they had left work and home. 

We have chatted with them and shared their experience at Entreculturas with their own travel book in hand. 

Entreculturas: How was your life before the conflict started? 

Brunilde and Diamantina: Before the rebels took over Mongo, the city of Chad in which wee lived, life was completely normal. In fact we had already started our work to help with the launching of Fe y Al in Chad. We were prepared to visit the communities in order to become familiar with the context in which the first 3 schools that have joined the project were situated. The objective is to add a total o 20 schools over the next two years.

 Our job was to train teachers, to carry out pedagogical follow up and raise awareness among families. We had also been in touch with certain institutions that were going to support the work of Fe y Alegría. However, as the conflict was intensified, the difficulties in communication a d travelling forced us to stop our work.


EC: What would you point out of this period?

B & D: Everything has happened in a matter of 20 days, however the experience has been intense. What we would underline of these few days is the interest of the people to learn, the girls at the boarding told us that most of all they wanted to study. They had enormous thirst for knowledge and a great determination to move forward in spite of the difficulties in such a deprived country. 

We have also found society open to get to know other realities. It is surprising, to find a boy interested in knowing who is the president of your country, where you live, what you do. They all received us with a great smile and greatly appreciated our efforts to integrate and adapt to their way of life and to learn their language.


EC: When did the situation start to change? 

B & D: The rebels started to put pressure on Yamena and on President Isis Debry. The information was neither fluid nor safe, even though this is not unusual in Chad. It is a country with many deficiencies. This lack of information enhanced the unrest given that even if the rebels had said they would not attack civilians, one could hear the sound of fire shots and war planes over flying the area. In our case, whenever the rebels entered the house, they acted respectfully. Overnight, Mongo was transformed into a scene of conflict. By the time we realized the house in which we lived was surrounded by the rebels and we could not get out, the time we stayed inside was endless. We tried to keep calm but it is true that waiting with no information was tough. At a certain moment we managed to move to Bandaro a small town, seven Kms. from Mongo, where we arrived walking and where things were quiet. When we learned that the rebels had abandoned Mongo, we decided to return to the city, but this time to the Prefecture where we could communicate via satellite with our families and with EC. What really worried us was that we could not tell our families that we were safe.


EC: What have you learnt from the experience you have lived?

B & D: We would point out that in extreme moments the people show the best side of themselves. During the days of conflict everybody contributed their best to keep everyone calm. We tried to sty calm even though we feared that the moment could come where money and food would become scarce, with no possibility of travelling to the capital for provisions. During this time we felt the permanent concern of our neighbours. This experience has shown the existing differences. In spite of being there, we continued to be privileged, since we had where to go but they had to remain there with no alternative. This is why we say that we were not afraid. We had great sadness and this is why the farewell with the persons which we have shared this time has been so hard. 

Now Brunilde and Diamantina are already in their homes with their families and friends, thinking about their experience since as they say "We have no yet really landed, we continue to being there."