Day 2: March 25

Sand over NDJ

G’s Journal–Day 2 – 24 March 2009 – N’Djamena

We woke up to find the city enveloped by a strange fog. NDJ already has an eerie feeling to it, and the fog just adds some mystery and unease to the experience. It’s not the kind of fog we get in Redondo Beach coming from the Pacific Ocean. NDJ’s fog is a combination of smoke, pollution, and lots of sand.


We had to drive through this sand to UNHCR offices, after hearing the great news that our permits were ready. We took one of the taxis that sit outside the hotel, and this one was just a bit more rundown the others. It sputtered in to motion, and this was not very comforting.

To make it to UNHCR, we have to drive past the presidential palace, a long, long wall with serious looking guards holding their weapons at the ready. We have heard from NGO workers that they all together avoid that road because if a vehicle stops there for any reason, the guards become extra protective and take the initiative to fire their weapons and ask questions later. Given the many attempts by all kinds of factions to try to bring down the president of Chad, it is not all surprising that they are vigilant in protecting the center of power.


For us in our hiccupping car, which felt ready to die at any moment, those minutes driving past that long wall felt like hours. As you can see (from me being able to write about this), we made it back intact, and with our permits!

We now are hoping for a clearing of the fog, so that our plane can take off tomorrow. There are other obstacles also, such as the shortage of fuel in Abeche. The French usually refuel these aid planes for their return, but now planes from NDJ must have enough fuel to go and come back, forcing half of the passengers off of each flight. Then, we’re not sure if there will be flights from Abeche to Goz Beida, where we go to next to make it to the camp, so we might have to drive that leg of our journey.

Could I have a collective crossing of fingers, please?

Peace, Gabriel

13 replies on “Sand over NDJ”

Thanks Lisa!
Looks like no plans to drive yet, one more flight (keep those fingers crossed tomorrow am) and then the only driving is the quick one to and from the camps!


Knowing how heartened the refugees will be that you have come, and how frustrated you are that you cannot do/bring more to them…I am praying for you. Your persistance is a treasure. May God enable you to see that you make a difference…and bless you with gas for your jouney.

Eh man, been a long time. i’ve read all your comment and video ( u, katie-j yuelin)
guys, i wish all the best and like i missed the group really. tell me when are u going to Abeche.

Ali from ghana

Ali! How are you? How’s life in Ghana? Are you coming back to Chad some day? We are now in Abeche, for one night, and we fly to Goz Beida tomorrow. Next time we come, we want to go to Kounoungo, and maybe we can find Ahmat’s family again. I hope you are well.

Hey guys, wishing you the best. Stafy safe and say hello to all our friends in Darfur. Quilos is doing great!


Hey Rachel!
Travels have been frustrating so far, but we are a good team here. we will pass on your love to our friends and pass our love back to Q. Don’t hesitate to call my mom if he is too much!

peace, ktj

Hey Rach! I can imagine little Q just about exhausted now, from chasing Chacha. Thanks for taking care of the pup. Say hi to all family. Please say Happy Birthday to lil D for us! We will definitely celebrate with him at a later date! hugs.

Hi Gab, KTJ and YL,

We are definitely thinking about you and praying that the situation isn’t as bad as you fear. Please be sure to take extra water if you decide to drive. You never know how long a sandstorm will last or if you might get stranded. All fingers crossed!!


Extra water most definitely! I am already feeling slightly dehydrated and a have what seems like a permanent headache. But things will get better! Looks like we are making the flight so no drive across the desert!

much peace, ktj

Hello Paula!
From what we hear out here, it’s not great news to report. The camps in Chad remain semi-stable at this exact moment, which means people just surviving with less than they should; but, the Chadians rebels are gearing up for another move, and this could really throw things off, at a time when UNHCR and agencies are having to plan for the possibility of a huge influx of refugees, given the emergency in Darfur. We’ll be in a camp by tomorrow, we hope, and we’ll hear directly from the Darfuri, some of which come and go between Chad and Darfur.

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