From Chad to Afghanistan

dear friends and family, salamaleikum,

hope you are all doing well. please write.

for thre three amongst you, whose powerful spam filter hasn’t identified this message as an advertisment for a cheaper credit or something worse, here’s what 2006 has in stock for me:

I have no idea whatshowever.

but whatever it is going to be, it’s going to take place – most probably – in mazar-i-sharif, in the north of afghanistan. (same job, different place)

afghanistan is certainly an interesting place these days (and has been for the last few hundreds of years), in the middle of the global war against whatever. on the other hand, if it happens, it’s going to be the third consecutive year in a desert and muslim environment. guess I’ll have to ask them for something a bit more … lively, afterwards? (give me bogota, colombo, new orleans, something!!!). well I did already, actually. they seem to love me. these shit holes (SH) contribute to the fact that one remains a single male delegate, who could be sent afterwards … to another place for a single male delegate, in other words: to another SH? 🙂 so, negotiations are still going on, but it’s a rather good bet to find me somewhere close to the blue mosque next year.

this SH here in the east of chad was full of learning, a tough place, but a once-in-a-lifetime and unforgettable experience. I never dreamt that people could live in such an adverse environment here in the sahel zone at the border to darfur, and much less that I would join them to do that for nine months. I will never forget the tough warrior types I saw in the sahara in the north of the east with their turbans, the villages in the south of the east, where life has not changed significantly since the middle ages (they are actually in the middle ages of their history), the incredible natural environment with monkeys, donkeys, camels, pelikans, and the billions of insects; the transformation of the landscape from brown to green during the rainy season, which paralysed men, animals, and cars; and the thousands of nomads, who moved all their camels, cattle and other belongings in the beginning of the rainy season a few hundred kilometers to the north, to the edge of the desert. and in the middle of all of this, 200’000 sudanese refugees, 50 or so humanitarian organizations with their airplanes, landcruisers, long antennas, thurayas, high speed internet, lots of $$ and – most importantly – with their people from all walks of life and every continent, who came to help, or some maybe for other reasons.

Saying good bye to our staff and our office turtle in Eastern Chad on the way to Afghanistan – the latter unfortunately died under the very Landcruiser pictured behind.

it’s always sad to leave your staff behind at some small airport, knowing you will most proably never see them again. I will be in europe for a few weeks and would be enlightened to have a milkshake or a glass of red wine with you (both of which very foreign commodities for me)

– 9.10. – 12.10. geneva
– 13.10. – 20.10. somewhere in switzerland
– 21.10. – 7.11. somewhere in europe, relaxing
– 8.11. – 30.11. switzerland again, still relaxing
– 1.12. off to 12 months of afghanistan – or wherever else they have in stock for me

with such precise pieces of information, I am sure you will call : +41 76 336 42 22

if you want to be sure that an email reaches me, use this address: icrc (at) stoessel (dot) ch

ps: my last story from chad. four days ago, I woke up with a terrible headache. two paracetamol didn’t help a lot. I went to our office, and our administrator also had a terrible headache. in the evening, I was invited at the WHO, where a quarter of the mainly medical people were complaining of having incurable headaches. the next morning (still headache), I went to our office again and exclaimed: “can any chadian please explain me why EVERYONE HAS A HEADACHE here?”. the receptionist looked at me in a pityful way and said: “monsieur marcel, don’t you know it’s always like this after it has rained for the last time. the roads will be passable again”. (indeed, there was a huge storm with rains the night before the headache). how can she – they – know that it rained for the last time? (in chad, they also believe that with a few cuts on your feet, snakes and scorpions don’t do any harm to you – we just killed two scorpions in our house, we don’t believe in gri gri) – she further assured me that on the FOURTH day, the headache will be gone. this morning, I woke up without headache.

Marcel Stoessel
ICRC sub-delegation Abeche, Chad
* Personal e-mail – not an official ICRC communication *

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