As Art traveled to Chad once again, he saw changes from his last visit, but along with the changes were the signs of things that never seem to change. Last year, when Art arrived, the country was in financial crisis. It was a crisis unlike any seen in at least the last two decades. The shops were almost bare. The markets were empty. People could not pay their rents. Teachers, hospital workers and anyone else working for the government were mostly on strike. If you were sick, there was little option but to pray. One year later, most of these things seem to have improved. The government began paying partial salaries. The shops now have goods to sell. The hospital is open, and children are going to school. A closer look however tells you that outward appearances can be somewhat deceptive. When you begin talking to the people of Chad, you realize that Chad’s biggest employer, the government, has frozen a good part of its hiring. People who planned on being teachers are now on a waiting list that is years long. The same is likely true for most other government posts, including nurses and doctors.
On top of all that, livestock prices remain at around 50 percent of their value from two years ago. That means that the people of Chad who rely on livestock to live, now have 50 percent less to live on. This decrease in livestock value is possibly related to terrorism on the western borders of the country. Nigeria was once a major consumer/purchaser of livestock from Chad. With terrorism, trading across borders is now much more dangerous, and therefore not really an option.
During our many years in Chad, we have seen lots of improvements. More roads in the capital have been paved, gas stations have been built and access to fuel has become more stable. In many ways however, Chad is still the same as it was when we arrived over 15 years ago. With all the changes over the years, there are some changes that never seem to happen.