When we first arrived in Chad 12 years ago, there were not many paved roads. In the capital, the only roads that were paved were the main streets, and then there was only one working stop light. There was another light, but it didn’t work. Out of the 500 km to our village, only 50-100 km was paved. The rest of it was gravel, dirt or sand, and very rough to travel. Since that time, the country has worked hard, with outside help, to pave many more roads in the capital. There are still many side streets that have yet to be paved, but it has come a long way. Even the road to our village is now paved. That road was a priority because of people wanting easier travel to make their pilgrimage to Mecca. Our village of Mongo happened to be on the way. Even our favorite wadi has been built over with a large bridge, so that travelers won’t be stopped when the wadi fills up with heavy rains. So what used to take 9 hours to drive to Mongo, now can be done in 7, sometimes less. Mongo has even started to supply electricity to part of the town in the evening.
Also, when we first arrived 12 years ago, there were only some phones in use in the capital. Colleagues in the village had to communicate with people in the capital via radio. In the past 6-7 years, cell phones have made their way into Chad. Now it’s hard to find anyone who does not have a cell phone. There are still many places that don’t have reception, but new cell towers are going up all over the place. Wow, how times have changed.