From Castlebar - County Mayo -
Chad - Three Weeks Gone!
By Kevin McDonald
28, Feb 2010 - 09:50
Three weeks nearly gone and the trip is flying. We had a long range patrol early in the week to a village called Kerfi, which is only 4 kms away but it hadn't been travelled to in a long while and we allowed three and a half hours to do it. In the end we did it in two and that included towing the Aid Agency jeep out of a sandy river bed, changing their flat tyre and avoiding a few camel trains, plus avoiding a few refugees camps. Our convoy had 7 armoured cars, an armoured ambulance, a big Scania 6 x 6 fitters truck and a similar stores truck, plus two aid agency jeeps so it is a rather cumbersome convoy. We generally go into an all round protective circle, about 2 kms from our destination, (think Wagon Train, circling the wagons to deter the Indians) and then I took my armoured car plus another one and went into the town with the aid personnel. There is a special protocol on arrival, first we meet with the Sous Prefait who would be like the politically appointed Mayor, then the Military Chief, then the Gendarmerie chief and finally we can escort the agencies to their compound to check their equipment and to the schools etc.
Meeting the local Chief of Gendarmerie
The heat is on the increase again and it was over 50 on the way back. I had to use a pair of winter leather gloves I found in my pack to protect my hands from the roof of the armoured car. Well it is Africa I suppose.
Tomorrow I am invited to go off with some of the Finnish contingent at 0500 to climb a nearby hill where their Lutheran Pastor is giving a dawn service, I'm a glutton for punishment as Sunday we are allowed sleep in until 0800!! I told Ellen and Ben I was giving up Guinness and Wine for Lent but they said it wasn't fair as I was already off it.....kids....
Anyway that's all the news for now.
OC Recce Coy
A quick update, just back from a 2 day patrol where we were checking out villages where the refugees are scheduled to return to. It took us 9 hours driving to travel approx 45 kms to check two of the villages and meet some of their elders. We then overnighted in the bush, which was interesting, imagine 12 large armoured cars, an armoured ambulance, a large Scania 6 x 6 stores truck and two 8 x 8 fitters trucks. We disturbed a herd of camels and indeed a flock of locusts as we set up but thankfully we had an uneventful night. We set off again at first light and it took us over 3 hours to travel 8 kms, that included four punctures and the fitters trucks getting bogged in sand twice. We eventually got to check out our third village and the only indicator that people had lived there was an abandoned child's plastic shoe and some burned stones. It certainly puts a lot of our lives into perspective.
Well that's all the news for now. Regards to all and best wishes to Fish for a speedy recovery.
Take Care and God Bless
Kevin Mc Donald
OC Recce Coy
102 Inf Bn
Kevin McDonald is a native of Castlebar and currently serving in Chad , Central Africa, with MINURCAT, a United Nations peacekeeping mission.
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