It’s been two months since we heard news of huge salary cuts and hospitals and schools on strike in Chad. We were concerned that this would be a repeat of 2016, when many government employees went without salaries for five months, which in turn left hospitals, schools, and markets vacant of people and merchandise.
So we are thankful to hear that, after only two months this time, everyone is back to work. Salaries are paid up and strikes are over. The hospitals are once again open to patients, and the schools are filled with students. Thank you for your prayers.
On another note, Art is planning another trip back to Chad in a couple of months. He will be there for about three weeks spending most of that time testing almost-completed Scriptures, and working on revising drafts of others. Our two oldest children will be going with him this time, Micah- to teach children, and Josiah- to help with computers. They are both excited about this opportunity. We would appreciate prayers as we plan for this trip.
It was just over a year ago during Art’s trip to Chad in 2016 that we were stunned to find how empty the shops were and how vacant the hospitals and schools were. Having not received pay for some time, most gov’t employees were on strike, leaving students with no educators and hospitals with no doctors or staff, which eventually trickled down to stores with no merchandise.
After many months of this, the country did recover, but now we are hearing of, what might be, another crisis. When the government workers received their paychecks last week, many found only a portion of their salary, some reduced by as much as 40%. Gov’t employees include police, military, teachers and hospitals. People are again on strike and frustrated. The hospital in Mongo just started sending patients home saying that there is no one there to help them.
Please pray for the people of Chad while the government works on stabilizing their economy once again.
Driving in Chad this past November, one thing that stood out to me was the road from the capital to where we lived in Mongo. That is a distance of around 500 kilometers, a little over 300 miles.
When we first arrived in Chad in 2001, this trip took us almost 9 hours on very rough roads that were best suited to off-road trucks. Over time, Chad and outside entities invested in infrastructure and built roads between the two cities. The trip is now down to around 6-1/2 hours.
While this is an amazing change, what is still needed in this landlocked country is a cost-effective way to import goods and a way of transporting these goods across a country that is over twice the size of Texas.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that discussions were already underway to build a railroad line in Chad. This rail line would connect to the neighboring country of Cameroon, which already has a track that extends to the Atlantic Ocean. A vote was taken in June, and the World Bank is providing funds to research the feasibility. A private firm has also committed to funding the project.
Just 4 short months after this vote, Sudan reached an agreement with two Chinese companies to do a feasibility study on constructing a railroad from the Red Sea to the Chad border. This railway would connect with the proposed Chad railway and result in a transport system that goes from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
These proposed railways would be fantastic for Chad’s economy and reduce the price of goods for the people of Chad. It looks like it won’t be too long before Chad has its own railroad, and with it, a means to improve a standard of living that remains one of the very worst in the world.
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.
Thanks to everyone who prayed about the recent financial crisis in Chad!
Art was in contact with the translation team last week, and he got an update on the financial situation in Chad. In previous posts, I spoke of the sticky situation going on in Chad. The government was not paying many of its people, and so workers were going on strike everywhere, including in hospitals. There is good news! The good news is that everyone who has been waiting for their government salary has been paid – paid in full!! We are a bit floored how this is possible, considering the severity of the economy and how it trickled down to affect just about everybody, but we THANK GOD for this positive change of events!
God’s hand is at work in Chad, Africa. It is incredibly clear. We need to keep praying for Him to move in people’s hearts, especially those of the Dadjo people. The Dadjo are finally getting the true Good News in their language, the language that speaks for their hearts!
Pray for their hearts to be stirred, and for them to cry out to God – not the God who demands perfection, but the God who’s name is Love, who is pure, just, and forgiving.
Art arrived in Mongo last Friday, no problems. He said several times that it was hot. Mongo tends to be a bit hotter than the capital, and then living right up against the “mountain” is worse as more heat reflects off of the mountain that his Mongo housing backs up against.
Then Art had a meeting for Scripture Use that several people were a part of including a few past and present Chadian missionaries to the Dadjo. The discussion went very well among all in attendance. Art is now starting the week going over Galations before testing it in nearby villages.
On a different note, the strikes that I mentioned about last week continue. It’s been four months that teachers and health workers have not been paid, so the strikes continue. There is a skeleton crew of health workers who have been put back on duty, but many of the hospitals have closed, and those that are open are way under staffed.
Not only is the lack of pay affecting teachers and healthcare workers, it is having a trickle down affect on much of the population. Because these people are not getting paid, they don’t have the money to buy in the markets, so the marketplace is fairly empty. And because there are not many buying in the market, the shop owners don’t have the money to feed their families AND keep their shelves full. It seems like some of them are on the brink of closing their doors. A friend that Art got to know pretty well used to have his shelves packed, but now the shelves are nearly empty.
Also, as far as the harvest of millet goes, apparently rainy season did not end very well. Several areas dried up too early in the Mongo region leaving much of the grain not ripe enough for harvesting. This is true for Izzo’s field and many around his. So it doesn’t sound like 2016 is ending up that well for many people in Chad. We can pray that they would find our heavenly Father to be the provider of all their needs.