There are over 120 languages in Tchad. Hausa is not one of them.
A woman came into our hospital. Nobody could understand what she was saying, but she brought her baby with her. Her baby was obviously sick. Before we could find a translator for her, we identified the sickness as malaria and started the child on an intravenous quinine drip. The mother clearly had no money.
We finally determined that the mother spoke Hausa, a language in northern Nigeria. Can you imagine going to a land that has over 120 different languages... and still nobody there understands you?!?!?!
Miraculously, one of the women who works for us, Naomie, had spent some years in Nigeria and spoke fluent Hausa. Naomie talked to this woman and got her incredible story...
A Tchadian man moved to Nigeria for work. He was from the Nangere tribe, which is located in Bere and the surrounding villages. He met and married this woman and they had a child. Boko Haram, a terrorist group from the same part of Nigeria, in Maiduguri, began targeting and killing all foreigners, including Tchadians. The father got caught in an ambush and took off for the African bush, disappearing for a long time.
After quite some time, the mother became worried her husband had returned to Tchad, so she came to look for him. She crossed into Cameroon and went from church to church, asking for just enough money to get her to the next church. She arrived in Tchad and tried to ask where she could find the Nangere tribe. As she traveled farther and farther from home, she found it more and more difficult to find a person who knew Hausa. She began spending days in each village, most of her time spent trying to find somebody who spoke her language. She arrived in Kelo, a village 42 kilometers from Bere and learned she was close to the epicenter of the Nangere tribe. So she trekked the 42 kilometers to Bere with a baby on her back..
Once she arrived in Bere, her troubles were still not over. She spent three days living and sleeping in the market, seeking somebody who spoke Hausa. And she did not find anything to eat. When her child fell ill with malaria, she came to our hospital.
Her baby required three days of intravenous quinine drip just to start eating again. Then we kept the baby for another day while trying to figure out what to do with this family. The mother has arrived to the home district of her husband, but the territory of the Nangere spans over 1000 square kilometers. And the Nangere people are not creative with their names, so her husband's name is very common.
In the meantime, we fed the woman and she began to get her strength back and began smiling. Life returned to her eyes, just as it did in the eyes of her child. Through it all, she continued to read her Hausa Bible every day.
Naomie, herself a single mother, came to me in tears on behalf of the woman. Naomie begged me to allow her to take the woman and her baby to her house. Who am I to say no?
Naomie and this woman are now living together with many children under their roof. But they are safe, happy and healthy.
I don't know what the ending to this story is. I don't know if this woman will ever find her husband or his family. I don't know if the husband was killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria. I don't know if he's still hiding in the African bush somewhere. I don't know if he's looking for his wife and child, desperate to know if they are ok. I don't know if he's returned to Tchad.
But I do know that God put Naomie in this woman's path at exactly the right time. And I also know that this child was going to die without the life-saving medications he received.
Mother and child both came to visit me today. Both look to be well-fed and healthy and in excellent spirits. The mother wanted to thank me endlessly and couldn't stop wishing God's blessings on me for the healing her child received.
I wish you could have been there to receive the blessings with me.