Tag Archives: One Village Transformed

Renewal in the Unrecognizable. // Tessou, Chad

I can’t honestly claim that I’ve ever been displaced. I’ve never been forced to leave my home, nor have I experienced the assumed feelings that are correlated with returning to a place that was once familiar, only to find that that place has transformed into something utterly unrecognizable.

To the most minor degree my recent return to Tessou, a small village tucked within the foothills of Eastern Chad, simulated these feelings of displacement, this sense of disorientation.  And the craziest thing is that these feelings came after I’d only been to Tessou ONCE before, for only ONE DAY.

The Tessou I saw one year ago.

The Tessou I saw one year ago.

In 2004, the Janjaweed (a horribly violent rebel group) attacked Tessou, forcing its residents to flee – leaving all possessions, and even some family members, behind. For years afterward the people of Tessou resided in neighboring villages and, primarily, Gassire Internally Displaced Persons camp.

Talk about displacement.

Weary and fed up with living off of someone else’s land, where they were unable to farm or provide for themselves, the community members slowly started returning to their home. But they came back to Tessou only to find it completely deserted and charred – all homes had been burned, livestock stolen, and possessions demolished.

Tessou one year ago.

Tessou one year ago.

But to the people of Tessou, no matter its ravaged appearance, the land remained their home. And in this once familiar, now unrecognizable village, it was time to begin anew.

I arrived in Tessou in July of 2013 to find a small number of dilapidated huts haphazardly situated on, what appeared to be, a massive dirt compound. Within the compound was a single tree – the only remaining evidence of a once populated and lively village. Everything I saw was brown – from the ground to the huts to the dirt covering people’s bodies. Because the nearest water source was an hour walk away, cleanliness was a low priority.

Last month I once again found myself  sitting in a World Concern vehicle, bumping along the road from Goz Beida to Tessou. I was anxious to return. Stories of had been circulating about the community’s transformations, but I had yet to see them for myself.

As our car pulled up to a village so densely surrounded in sorghum, trees, and maize, I figured we must be lost. This was not the Tessou I knew. Why were there so many homes? Where was the group of men and women sitting under the single tree? Why was everything so…green?

I did not recognize Tessou one bit. I felt disoriented. But this time it was for the best of reasons.

In the last year, partnering with World Concern’s One Village Transformed program, the people of Tessou have rebuilt their village from the ground up. In fact, they have far surpassed their state of development prior to the Janjaweed attacks!

Tena drinks from Tessou’s first clean water pump.

Firstly, Tessou now has clean and accessible water. This is huge.

“Before we got our new well, we used to walk one hour each way to collect water,” shared 20-year-old Tena. “But now Tessou is better. We have clean water that we can use for preparing our food, drinking, bathing, and for washing our clothes.”

According to Tena, people no longer get sick from drinking water, “If they get sick, it is caused by something else.”

“Now that we have a water pump we can use the water for food, we can wash our clothes, and we can bathe easily,” 35-year-old Fatuma said. “We no longer have to travel to collect water at the local, dirty source.”

In addition to improving overall community health, having access to clean water has allowed the people of Tessou to efficiently build thousands of bricks.

“We are working on making bricks to be used for a school and maybe even a health center,” Tena explained.  “If there is a school here, I want to go. I want to be a big woman like you.”

And then there are the agricultural improvements – since moving back to the village, many people have returned to farming. And because they now have accessible water, their farms are flourishing. And because their farms are flourishing, World Concern is partnering with the farmers to develop their skills even further.

One more thing – Tessou is now home to organized savings groups.

“I am the president of our community savings group,” shared Fatuma. “Each woman involved contributes money. Together we have bought some bags of seeds and have even hired people to cultivate our seeds.”

As a gathering of 25 women, Fatuma’s savings group hopes to save enough money to contribute to purchasing a community mill. The group also serves as a distributor of loans, “If a member is in trouble or wants to start a small business, she can borrow money from the group and pay it back later.“

Both Tena and Fatuma’s testimonies are two prime examples of the transformations that are possible when a community is empowered and willing to develop themselves. The unrecognizable Tessou that I recently experienced is so full energy and motivation that it is palpable – these people are ready to improve their way of life. And, most importantly, they are elated to be the hands and feet facilitating their own transformations.

Fatouma (in green) stands proudly next to some of the members in her savings group.

 

Villages Transformed: Chad

In July of 2013, I made the trek to the Sila Region of Chad. At the time, my main objective was to document the beginning stages of World Concern’s One Village Transformed projects in 10 different villages. During a period of 3 weeks, I interviewed over 40 individuals and captured more than 4,000 photos. While in the villages, I listened to countless horrific stories of rebel attacks and displacement. I also heard stories of hope, resiliency, and a tangible eagerness to move forward and develop their communities into what they once were… and more.

One year later, in October of 2014, I had the opportunity to return to this scarcely documented and highly fascinating place. As can be rare in my line of work, I was able to reunite with people and communities. And this time I brought photos – frozen moments to serve as evidence of the ‘before’. Each photo tells a story of the major transformations that are taking place in Amkharouba, N’djamena, Harako, Tessou, Karona, Maramara, and Amkereribe villages – the ‘after’ and what is yet to come!

While in Chad, I was surprised to find that I barely recognized any of the villages. This was due in part to the recent rainy season, bringing with it bountiful crops and lush surroundings. It was also due to the fact that these villages are developing! Many now have clean water, schools, and better constructed homes. People look cleaner and are visibly more healthy.

Take a look at the following photos and see if you can see a difference from my photos taken over a year ago. Hopefully, you also don’t recognize these villages.

34-year-old Mademi tends to his improved harvest. “We have been learning about better planting practices and how to transplant seedlings," he shared. // Raibandala Village,, Chad

34-year-old Mademi tends to his improved harvest. “We have been learning about better planting practices and how to transplant seedlings,” he shared. // Raibandala Village, Chad

“After returning from the IDP camps, we had to start a new life, but now it’s going well.”

“After returning from the IDP camps, we had to start a new life, but now it’s going well.”

"I hope to use the money I borrow from my World Concern women's farming group to one day pay for my children's school." - Kouboura Mahamat

“I hope to use the money I borrow from my World Concern women’s farming group to one day pay for my children’s school.” – Kouboura Mahamat

This is hospitality. // Ambarto Village, chad

This is hospitality. // Ambarto Village, Chad

"During the war the rebels came and took all of our belongings. Because we have no clean water, our village is developing very slowly. But, we are thankful for new farming training from World Concern. I farm 6 acres: 2 acres for children, 2 acres for feeding, and 2 for trade." Mahamat Adam // Ko

“During the war the rebels came and took all of our belongings. Because we have no clean water, our village is developing very slowly. But, we are thankful for new farming trainings from World Concern. I farm 6 acres: 2 acres for my children, 2 acres for feeding, and 2 for trade.” Mahamat Adam // Kouraii Bechir Village, Chad

WIth the help of World Concern, Mahamat and his farming group were able to pay for a few horses.

WIth the help of World Concern, Mahamat and his farming group were able to pay for a few horses.

Groundnuts!

Groundnuts!

Kouraii Bechir, Chad

Kouraii Bechir, Chad

Time to let go after a long day in the field. // Ade, Chad

Time to let go a bit after a long day in the field. // Ade, Chad

Life of an aid worker. // Ade office, Chad

Life of an aid worker. // Ade office, Chad

Beautiful Sylvie. // Ade, Chad

Beautiful Sylvie. // Ade, Chad

Home. // Ade office, Chad

Home. // Ade office, Chad

When the solar power runs out... // Ade office, Chad.

When the solar power runs out… // Ade office, Chad.

Yaya and his daughter (one of his nine children). Yaya recently helped build thousands of bricks for the villages first ever school. // Amkereribe, Chad

Yaya and his daughter (one of his nine children). Yaya recently helped build thousands of bricks for the village’s first ever school. // Amkereribe, Chad

WATER! // Amkereribe, Chad

WATER! // Amkereribe, Chad

This group of ladies is preparing to operate Amkereribe's new mill. Not only will this business benefit their families, but it will improve the village as a whole.

This group of ladies is preparing to operate Amkereribe’s new mill. Not only will this business benefit their families, but it will improve the village as a whole.

We meet again! // Miriam Souleman, Amkereribe, Chad

We meet again! // Miriam Souleman, Amkereribe, Chad

Ready for school! // Amkereribe, Chad

Ready for school! // Amkereribe, Chad

Momma lovin'. // Amkharouba, Chad

Momma lovin’. // Amkharouba, Chad

Pumping water from the new well at dusk. // Amkharouba, Chad

Pumping water from the new well at dusk. // Amkharouba, Chad

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Guess which water is from the new well and which is from the wadi?? // Amkharouba, Chad

Guess which water is from the new well and which is from the wadi?? // Amkharouba, Chad

Evening light in Goz Beida, Chad.

Evening light in Goz Beida, Chad.

Harako Village is heading into their second year of school... ever. The community made all of the bricks for this building and the children already speak French!

Harako Village is heading into their second year of school… ever. The community made all of the bricks for this building and the children already speak French!

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Fixing up desks after their first year of wear and tear. School is back in session! // Harako, Chad

Fixing up desks after their first year of wear and tear. School is back in session! // Harako, Chad

Remember my friend Kaltam? Updates: she has another baby and she LOVES photos. // Harako, Chad

Remember my friend Kaltam? Updates: she has another baby and she LOVES photos. // Harako, Chad

Blacksmiths in Harako, Chad.

Blacksmiths in Harako, Chad.

The best interpreter and assistant. Meet: Aime.

The best interpreter and assistant. Meet: Aime.

Welcome to Karona - the village in the hills.

Welcome to Karona – the village in the hills.

Hassanie pumping glorious water from  Karona's first clean water source.

Hassanie pumping glorious water from Karona’s first clean water source.

The journey to gather water. // Karona, Chad

The journey to gather water. // Karona, Chad

The Chadian noonday heat is not a joke. // Karona, Chad

The Chadian noonday heat is not a joke. // Karona, Chad

Fatuma shows us her home that burned in the recent fires. Due to their resiliency, and your assistance, the community of Maramara were quickly able to rebuild what was lost.

Fatuma shows us her home that burned in the recent fires. Due to their resiliency, and your assistance, the community of Maramara was quickly able to rebuild what was lost.

More clean water! // Maramara, Chad

More clean water! // Maramara, Chad

Standing in front of Maramara's FIRST school.

Standing in front of Maramara’s FIRST school.

Meet Rose, another interpreter (and model) extraordinaire.

Meet Rose, another interpreter (and model) extraordinaire.

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These straws are woven together for homes, fences, and more. They are quite practical, but also dangerous due to the region's dry and windy seasons. // Maramara, Chad

These straws are woven together for homes, fences, and more. They are quite practical, but also dangerous due to the region’s dry and windy seasons. // Maramara, Chad

The walk to collect clean water in a village I hardly recognized. // Tessou, Chad

The walk to collect clean water in a village I hardly recognized. // Tessou, Chad

Tessou, Chad.

Tessou, Chad.

Ade Abdallah was not born blind. "Some years ago, I got a very bad headache and then I started to lose my sight. It is not easy to be blind in these circumstances, but I have been able to do things like help make bricks for our future school." // Tessou, Chad

Ade Abdallah was not born blind. “Some years ago, I got a very bad headache and then I started to lose my sight. It is not easy to be blind in these circumstances, but I have been able to do things like help make bricks for our future school.” I told him that his eyes are beautiful and asked to take a photo of them. He agreed. // Tessou, Chad

Rose enjoys a groundnut break. // Tessou, Chad

Rose enjoys a groundnut break. // Tessou, Chad

Tessou, Chad.

Tessou, Chad.