Saturday, January 14, 2012

Durand Farm

I need to back up a bit and mention a trip to the Durand farm that we did the day before we left for Abeche. Another one of ENVODEV's projects was for us to get in contact with the Durand family and get a tour of their farm because James will be making a website (with video clips) for them. We were supposed to have met them sooner in our trip but had had difficulties getting in contact with them. The Durands are a couple, Sarah from Sweden and David who is half Chadian, half French that have a farm outside of Farcha (a town on the edge of N'Djamena). This farm produces some of the local cheese that is used in the nicer local restaurants in the capital and for sale locally.

So we met Sarah at their family home and she drove us out to the farm. We spent the next couple hours interviewing first Sarah and then David as they showed us their operations and talked about their future plans, with James getting the tour and doing all the talking, and me chasing them around with the video camera. They make cheese from both cows and goats and we were able to poke around and even climb up the water tower for an overview. Their farms is a little green oasis in the middle of a sea of sand. They must be the only people for miles that are actually planting trees..

As further proof that it's a really small community out here in Chad. The Durands also have some horses which others use for riding lessons so a lot of the families know of them and go out there. In fact we learned that one of Dominique's daughters broke her arm falling from one of the horses the day before. This actually affected our plans as we were supposed to be going to Moussoro with Dominique and Sam on our next trip and in the end the trip was shortened by a day and Sam had gone on ahead of us as mentioned in the last blog.

Back to the Durands. It was very inspiring talking to them and hearing about their attitudes toward the situation in the country. David was very open about his criticism of development in the area. His opinion was that the government and NGO's take too much time giving lip service to projects or analyzing things with reports requiring lengthy proposals and not doing anything in time. Meanwhile he's built over a dozen water wells and pumps for the villages surrounding his farm. He took us out to see a few of them, and for those of you that saw the picture of the kids, that was at one of his pumps that he was showing us. His opinion is that it is quite simple, get the money (it's about 1000 euros or so for a well, which he takes from either his own farm profits or independent donations from Swedish people), hire a local company and voila, you have a well and people are happy. No need to wait around for 6 months thinking about it.... Thus he does all of his work on his own and no longer even tries to collaborate with the other groups.

He also allows some of his employees to come and farm cucumbers on some of his unused land, and he showed us the foundations he's starting to lay for what will eventually be a small hospital just outside his farm for the local community. He also claims to be trying to improve the genetic stock of the cow and goat strains in the local community as well. His animals are enhanced through crossbreeding (via artificial insemination with European animals) to provide more meat and milk. Apparently a goat in Europe can produce 5L of milk. In Chad it takes 3 goats to make 1L. By lending his studs (for free) to villages in the area, he's improved the goats up to 1L milk/goat. Of course they can't ever get up to the European levels or simply replace all the animals because they need the Chadian toughness to survive the much harsher climate here.

As you can imagine he is a very popular and respected figure in the area and although there may come a day where someone discovers that something was done improperly or maybe they shouldn't've acted quite so quickly in a project, I think what Chad (and all of the developing world really) needs is more people making a difference like the Durands.

When we got back from Moussoro we met up with David again and got some more footage of the actual cheese making process which they are still doing at their family compound and not at the farm. We got a quick half hour tour and ran away again.

And thus we come to the end of our time here in Chad. Did we accomplish all we wanted? No. Did we accomplish something? Yes. Will it have an impact and help people? Hopefully. James has to get back to classes which start as soon as he gets back to Texas. He will eventually put together some videos of what all we've done here and I'm looking to see how it'll turn out. I am leaving now for Cameroon to continue travelling on my own. I'm expecting the conditions to get much rougher for me from here on out without the language help or the nice compound to be based out of.

My bag is a lot heavier now too after picking up a few items. James is ditching all his stuff and I'm collecting blankets....



At 6:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ammon, 1000 euros for a well, Hmmm, I'll keep that figure in my head. Cuz ever since receiving that much needed village's water during our grueling trek in Guinea, seeing our Liberian hosts haul on their heads all our drinking and bathing water, and reading in Ugandan newspapers how Mugabe allowed thousands of children to die of cholera due to the lack of clean water in Zimbabwe, I have always wanted to place hermetically sealed wells where they are needed most. What a real difference that would make!! Thanks for all the blogs! The dusty ride out to the ruins definitely brought back lotsa memories!


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