In Progress

In progress: New brick school and more wells

The middle school in Besseye-Lar, Chad, is open to the elements, so when it rains books are damaged.  STELAS is working with villagers to build a brick classroom.  Volunteers have already made the bricks and built walls with them.  STELAS is committed to raising $5,000 to pay for windows, cement, zinc roofing, and other materials needed to complete the building. Target date of completion is September 1, 2011.

Another project in progress is the construction of two more wells—one for the middle school and one for the village in general.  Money for these wells was donated by Drop in the Bucket, a partner organization, after the successful completion of the primary school well project.

STELAS MISSION TO BESSEYE-LAR/CHAD.

Mission Objectives
1) Follow-up on the implementation  of STELAS water project supported by Drop in Bucket;
2) Follow-up on the implementation of STELAS Primary School Class Room project:
3) Implementation of the Law Secondary School Class Room project;
4) Counselling the Parent Association of Primary and Law Seconday Schools of Besseye-Lar.

Composition of the Mission:
Dr Rolel Mbaidjol
Dr Lystra Celestine
Mr John Sisk

Departed from Dullus Washington Airport on November, 3rd, 2011, the mission arrived in Ndjamena the capital city of Chad on November, 4th. On November, 7th, STELAS team-members reached Besseye-Lar, the final destination of the mission, a small village located in southern Chad in the region of Logone Occidental. For having been the beneficiary of STELAS Pilote water project, the first well ever dogged with the support of Drop in the Bucket in Chad in 2009, Besseye-Lar is not new in STELAS books. However, except for Dr Rolel Mbaidjol, none of the mission members have ever been to Chad, a vast arid land located in the heart of Africa. Therefore, traveling 600 kms from Ndjamena to Besseye-Lar, via the rural city of Moundou, represented an unprecedented adventure for the rest of the mission members. John’s reaction after one hour on dirt road of Moundou to Besseye-Lar summarizes the anxiety that prevailed after 8 hour- drive to Moundou on the highway from Ndjamena: “Are you sure that village of Besseye-Lar really exists?” John asked the driver. “We’ll be there soon”, the driver replied. And you’ll be amazed by the welcome activities the villagers used to improvise for their visitors, he added.  This sentence summarizes everything we saw during our stay in Besseye-Lar.

Day 1
The village as a whole came out to welcome. Women, men, girls and boys were singing and dancing in front of the Paramount Chief’s palace. The team came out of the SUV absolutely confused, as despite the driver’s comments, no one was expecting such a drama.  The time is very short. The team was introduced to the Chief and the elders in a very short ceremony. We needed a few minutes rest to start the work. A house in the compound was offered for our lodging. While the noise was mounting as more kids invaded the palace.

We agreed to start with a visit to the first water pump installed on the primary school yard so as to also meet the teachers and parents of that school (see stelas photo galery). The pump is functioning well, thanks to the hard work of the primary school principal who has been able to gather good will of local volunteers to the maintenance and good use of the water pump. Only one word came from the Parents’ Association: “benches!”. Indeed, STELAS helped them to construct a beautiful two-classroom building; but there are no benches. The school girls and boys are seeting on the bare floor keeping their furniture beside them and writing on their laps. We were all touched by the event we have witnessed. STELAS needs to take further steps to help the Parent Association to equip the Primary School of Besseye-Lar.

Then the team moved together with the population to visit the two other water pumps installed more recently by Drop in the Bucket (one in market place and one in the inner part of the village).  A dance was organized by the villagers on the scene (please visit STELAS Youtube account). The two gifts are also working perfectly well.

Day 2
A remarkable day enlightened by astonishing activities related to the to placing the first stone on the ground for the foundation of the four-classroom building by STELAS in support to the Lower Secondary Parent Association’s project. A traditional ceremony was organized by the village elders accompanied by traditional religious leaders (please visit STELAS Youtube account to vision the ceremony). The paramount chief was the first to start digging, followed by other villagers and STELAS team-members. A traditional ruler put a brick on the ground in a mounting songs and applause.

STELAS helped for the maintenance of a water pump installed by a group of Chadian Good Samaritans on the yard of the Lower Secondary School. That pump was not working and the school goers were relaying on some good wills in the viccinity to get access to potable water. STELAS spontaneous gesture was well appreciated by the parents and the students.

Day 3
The work continued in the Lower Secondary School yard for the foundation and elevation of the walls. STELAS team members took time to listen to the Parents Association. It was clear to STELAS that the goodwill is there, but financial means are very limited. The villagers can only provide local building material, such as bricks, sand, gravel and water. For a four-classroom there is a need for other building materials such as cement, wood, iron, etc, which should be imported from neighboring countries, namely Cameroon and Nigeria. Prices are therefore, out of reach, when delivered in Besseye-Lar. STELAS calls upon the community of donors to come to its rescue for the Parents of Besseye-Lar to get a decent classroom for their kids. (Please visit STELAS Photo Gallery for more information).

Day 4
On their way back to Ndjamena, the team spent a night in Moundou and made a tour of the rural city to discover that Moundou is also a very poor city with dirt streets, limited water points, no electricity in the major part of the city, except in the viccinity of the local beer brewry plant. Market goods are only from agriculture, except clothing from China and recicled building materials.

The team returned to Ndjamena on November, 9th for onward travel to Washington.

Conclusion
The major lesson learnt was the importance of being on the ground with the beneficiaries of STELAS’ aid to better understand their needs and learn about their constraints and coping mechanisms. STELAS objective is to educate about the limited nature of any international support and the necessity for the beneficiries to actively participate to the development effort, rather than depending on aid. The team believe that the objective has been reached. Every villager did something to help. We saw pregnant women carrying water or sand for the foundation of the school (see STELAS photo gallery). The level of enthousiasm was very high and the presence of STELAS members in a remote village like Besseye-Lar added to the excitement.
STELAS Team was happy to discover that other good Samaritans are adding their support to the effort of villagers as they saw the results of the work on the ground. Both schools have now drinkable water with the beneficial effect on education and learning. Howver, the major constraint is the isolation of a village with no access road, no infrastructure for health, no electricity.

A follow-up mission should be planned to support the completion of the lower secondary school project and report on new findings on the ground. STELAS believes that drinkable water needs are sufficiently covered. Education and health sectors  complement each other and need to be pursued simultaneously. STELAS invites all organizations interested in rural development to consider the rather pathetic situation in Besseye-Lar/Chad. STELAS teaam members are prepared to share their experience in supporting rural development in Besseye-Lar.

N.B. Add relevant pictures from introduction of the report to activities undertaken during Days 1, 2, 3, 4.
Pictures of departures and arrivals, if any, are welcome.

Health and Education

There is no health facilities in Besseye 1 the head village where the Paramount Chief resides. STELAS provided a donation of basic health equipments and some basic drugs to a young graduate from nursing school. The nurse accepted to provided basic drugs to the school girls and boys, free of charge and to the villages against payment to cover basic health needs. The sick should also go to a local clinic located 10 miles from the village or go to the city of Moundou to get medical care.

During their mission to southern Chad in November 2011, STELAS team-members witness the lack of resources for such medical units to function. Owing to the increasing number of students in the Community Lower Secondary School of Besseye-Lar, a functioning clinic in Besseye 1 village is crucial to associate health and education.