Saturday, December 3, 2011


harvest season.

men are walking to the fields with scythes slung over their shoulders

ox-carts are rumbling by at all hours of the day and early morning,
loaded with hay from the rice fields, bundles of bean leaves, other

there are vegetables in the market and chunks of fly swarmed meat.

there are peanuts and sacks of millet and baskets of dried fish.

it looks busy, happy, industrious.

but something isn't right

rice is hard to find.

almost every day, and absolutely every Friday and Saturday (big market
days) Bikaou, my tchadian mother, searches for rice.

its harvest season. and she searches for rice.

sometimes she comes back with a sack. sometimes 2.

planning ahead isn't a trait that is necessarily a trait that is
ingrained in the Tchadian culture.... but this year they have to plan

this year is different.

the price of rice is rising every week. right now its 35,500 CFA.
Thats $72.00 US dollars. thats about how much the average Tchadian
makes per month.

how long does one sack last, I asked. there are about 10 people eating
in this family.

With millet, maybe a month. maybe.

She is looking for 12 sacks.

Why is it so hard to find? Why does she have to look for rice when we
are surrounded by rice fields.

because last year, this time of year, a sack of rice was 22,000 CFA.
$44.00. it has almost doubled.

next week it may be 40,000 CFA, $80.00.

they tell me, in a couple months, one sack of rice will cost 60,000
CFA. $120.00.

big trucks are coming in from N'Djamena. Buying up all the rice.
people are coming down in cars, on buses. They are calling their
relatives and sending money. Everyone is looking for rice. Everyone is
buying now.

she goes to the market at 6 am. trying to get there before everyone else.

we have 8 bags now. looking for 4 more. and 5 for her brother.

then, we will start doing the same with millet.

everyone is saying there is going to be a famine.


that's something that happens over in Africa.

Something thats always going on somewhere in this world.

not something my family should be worrying about.

not something that will affect my pediatrics patients.

not something that will strike my neighbors.

this year, it just didn't rain very much.


next time you want to curse the rain,

grab a cup of coffee and a good book instead.

because here,

rain is life.

**** the photo is Boule (no idea how to spell it) it is the staple food
of Tchad and made with rice, millet, or a mixture of both. it has a
thick consistency, like congealed gruel and to eat it you pinch it off
and dip it into various sauces. Most families here have this at least
once a day if not every meal.

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