September update

It’s early September so I guess if you are reading this in the UK, summer will soon be drawing to a close and autumn is on it’s way. Here in the tropics, it’s still hot and stormy!

After the hectic days of July where the whole team arrived and we got the eye clinic open, we have settled into a bit of a routine with everyone finding their feet in their roles. Sophie is constantly up to something with her friend Michelle and Sammy and Hannah are enjoying school.

The Team
The team in Ouesso

The clinic has been busier than expected during the first month and a half of opening. It’s amazing to think that without this service, most of our patients would not have received the correct help for their condition. Out of the first few weeks, here are a few success stories. One man in his 30s came with an allergy and the team diagnosed glaucoma. If this had not been treated he probably would have gone blind within a year. Another man came to get some glasses and discovered that he had high blood pressure which again if untreated could have led to blindness within a few years.

Doug helping at the clinic
Getting the systems working properly at the Interim Eye Centre

We have been busy in our roles – Annabel doing finance and helping with various administration tasks and Doug fixing everything from clinic equipment to water pumps, helping on the site and keeping the IT running smoothly.

We are still very much foreigners here, 5 months in, stumbling along in our French (and still only managing greetings in the local language, Lingala), and we’re pretty sure that along with others in the team we are the only white people in Ouesso! But when I look back a few months I can see the progress we’ve made – I can get around, shop, go to the market, get in a taxi with my kids which already has three other passengers!

Doug has been able to help with one piece of work at the site of the new eye hospital where we have needed to unblock a canal that drains water away from the airport. This was filled in to get some heavy machinery to the site for some surveying but it has started to create some flooding. Work parties have been arranged along with our engineers to come up with a solution so we are currently working on getting a pipe into the canal so that we will still be able to get the machinery in that we need for the construction.

Doug and team working on the new hospital site

If you are praying for us please do continue to pray for us as we continue to get to grips with the language. There are times when we have some success with our French but then there are times when we feel woefully out of our depth. Please pray for protection for us all. And please pray for the building of the New Sight Ouesso Eye Hospital, that it would progress smoothly.

Targett Family

Help is on its way

It is now late July and since our last post we have been busy preparing for and welcoming the rest of the New Sight team here to Ouesso. The team includes a range of ages and nationalities filling a variety of roles from nurse to engineer to teacher.

Over the last few weeks it has been amazing to watch the team work together with the goal of opening the interim eye centre, to enable New Sight to start to help people while the new eye hospital is still being built. Early on we were able to join in the preparations as a family when the rooms being used for the centre all needed a thorough clean – our kids are unstoppable with a broom and a mop!

After weeks of work and arranging shipments from 3 different countries we received our first patients this week at our interim eye centre. People in the community have been waiting for the clinic to open, without which eye conditions would go untreated. We are so excited that the team are now able to see and treat patients here in Ouesso!

Doug has put his practical skills to work making various necessary items including a cover for a large drain just outside the entrance to the clinic, some fixtures in the clinic and repairing some of the equipment after transit. In general he is kept very busy fixing anything from internet connections to leaking pipes! Annabel is getting to grips with her finance role and enjoying flexing her brain a bit after the last few years of full time parenting!

Samuel and Daddy leveling the route to the Interim Eye Centre

One of the biggest changes over the last couple of weeks is that we now have our wonderful teacher Ruth here. It has made a huge difference to the kids to be with an experienced teacher who plans interesting and varied activities for them.

The kids have dealt with all the changes well, better than us adults of course! We are living on the team compound with eight other people and it is fun for them to have a lot of different people around. They now have a new little friend, 2 year old Michelle, who is living next door with her parents as part of the New Sight team. We had hoped that playing with Michelle, who is French-speaking, might help Sophie learn French, but they mainly just speak their own language and expect the other to understand! As for our French skills – it’s slow but I think we are gradually improving.

We still cause a bit of a stir when we go out. A couple of weeks ago as we walked in to town, a brave little boy ran up to touch Samuel’s arm (no, the white doesn’t come off!). Children often shout to us ‘mondele!’ (white person) and our kids have learnt to shout back ‘mbote moyindo’ (Hello black person) back to them. That’s about all the Lingala that we’ve learnt!

We would appreciate prayer for:

  • Continued good health.
  • The hospital building project – that obstacles would be overcome.
  • Improving our French and building relationships with people.

For further information regarding these exciting changes you can see the new sight newsletter https://www.newsightcongo.com/jul19/ .

Two months in….

Here we are, at the start of June, heading in to a month of craziness! We have had our first few visitors staying at the team compound already, engineers and project manager here to get the new hospital building started. By the end of June we will have welcomed 17 people from across the globe, 8 of whom are new long term team members. In the middle of that there are huge challenges to overcome and provision needed.

We are both starting to get a little bit more useful and doing what we can to help the Samoutous with the many things they are juggling. This has included, for Doug, driving engineers and workers to the site and helping dig big holes, collecting furniture from the carpenters, and putting up mosquito screens. And for Annabel, starting to help Joyce with the finance admin and helping to get everything ready for visitors.

It’s been great to start to be able to find our way around the town without help. Shopping is a bit more time consuming here as you can’t just run around a supermarket filling a trolley! All of the fresh things come from the market and we have figured out the best shops to get the rest. Of course, everywhere we go we stand out because we are white and we are speaking English. People are friendly and we have learnt to laugh at ourselves as we try to communicate in French.

I suddenly realized a couple of weeks ago that we’re not just coping with home school but that the kids have actually learnt something! We still have no clue what we’re doing but children have a way of thriving while you are stumbling about in the dark.

We still get homesick and overwhelmed but it’s so good to be a tiny part of something that will transform life for countless people with no other hope.

We would really appreciate your prayer for the whole team here as we navigate all of the challenges ahead this month.






Life as a clay jar

As I type we have been in Congo for nearly 7 weeks and been living in Ouesso for 4 of those weeks. We have just got wifi here so I thought I’d take the opportunity to write another blog to let you all know how we’re getting on.

We have been really blessed with a safe and comfortable compound to live in along with the Samoutous and the rest of the team, while the new Eye Hospital is being built. Doug has been busy trying to get our satellite internet working and other odd jobs like installing the washing machine as we get all set up here.

In a couple of weeks teams will start to arrive to get the construction started and help with other parts of the project. So we are part of the first pioneering team, making the compound home and figuring out how things work in our new town.

When people ask me how we’re settling in, it’s hard to answer! To be honest a lot of the time it has felt like wading through treacle. Think you ever feel like you don’t know what you’re doing? Imagine turning up somewhere where you don’t speak the language, don’t understand the culture, and have no idea how the society works. Plus you are going to start home schooling your kids for the first time!

Even going to the shops for a simple thing can be a challenge – the currency here is about 1000 francs to 1GB pound and my French tends to fall apart when numbers like 15600 are flying about! I’m longing for a self service till right now! We have fantastic people to help us who are very patient as we stumble along.

The kids seem to be mainly taking it in their stride. They have tried new food including porcupine, antelope and gazelle, learnt a few more words in French, and are surviving being home schooled (as far as I can tell!).

I have found this last six weeks more of a challenge personally than I think I expected. Being out of your comfort zone in every way really reveals how much of your self esteem is built on what you do and achieve every day. I have been so desperate at times just to return to my own familiar routine! I have been drawn again and again to the verse in the Bible about being treasure in jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). I can’t see why God wants me to be here, what help I can be when I feel helpless, but I can be a jar carrying the treasure that is Him.

Between the lines…

In the last few weeks run up to coming here it felt like when you are about to have your first baby. You know a big change is coming and you have prepared as best you can but really you don’t know what to expect, and all the advice you might get from people who have gone before can’t completely tell you how it will be for you.

I knew everything would be different, and I wanted that. But EVERYTHING is different and human beings always crave the known and comfortable at times. So one minute you revel in it and the next you just want know how to function in daily life and not always be clueless! The shock of suddenly landing in an entirely different culture has given me a little insight in to how refugees must feel. The big difference being that we chose this, we were not forced, and we can still return home when it’s time.

While I struggle on trying to get my adult brain to accept change and my adult soul to not freak out, the children are adjusting pretty easily to their new normal! I asked Hannah (our eldest, age 8) to give me a few ideas of what she thinks is different here in Congo:

  1. It’s hot
  2. There are a lot of bugs
  3. Cold showers
  4. Congolese people speak French
  5. They drive a lot of taxis
  6. We don’t always have internet, electricity or running water
  7. We use a water filter
  8. We share beds

She couldn’t think of anything else. But I promise you, EVERYTHING is different! It took Samuel (age 5) a whole week to realise there’s no TV here (and this is the child that would ask to watch TV as soon as he got home from school). They are already happy greeting everybody in French (Sophie even switched to ‘Bonsoir’ yesterday evening without being prompted) and are enjoying different food. So the conclusion is, be under 10 years old or be very patient with yourself.

Settling In…

We made it… After leaving our house at 1.30 in the morning and and arriving at our guest house in Brazzaville at 7pm. Despite a few hiccups including a mishap with the passports (sorry Annabel!), forgetting to take out Samuel’s medication at customs and having to get the bag pulled off the scanner, missing a bag after disembarking in Brazzaville and having to go back to the airport get the bag retrieved. And that’s not to mention the challenges of the last couple of weeks. But we are here!

We have had a good weekend of getting used to the warm, 32 degrees and the storms, and looking around the capital city. There are a lot of things to do over the next couple of weeks before moving on to Ouesso, but we are sure that this is what we are supposed to be doing.

Sophie has the pink shoes, Samuel is the red shoe and Hannah has the palm tree sandle.


Nearly there!

Well it’s 12.40am and in less than an hour we will be on our way to Manchester Airport to catch our flight to Paris then on to Brazzaville, Congo!

The last few weeks have been a challenge. We have discovered that it is really quite complicated to pack up a family of five and move them to another very different country! We’ve had some wonderful times with friends and family, this really has shown us what amazing people we have in our lives.

People keep asking how the kids are feeling. Yesterday I overheard Hannah telling Samuel ‘We both get three exciting things this week: we both had a film night at school, we both get to go to Congo, you had a school trip and I get to go to my friend’s house’! I think so far they are taking it in their stride, have enjoyed the goodbye parties and get togethers and have no idea really what is coming next but are excited.

But right now we are ready to go, the house is empty and soon we have to get the kids up and in to the car. There are so many questions and challenges but I know this is where God wants us to go. I might not fully know why, but that’s good enough for me.

Three weeks till wheels up

We are now three weeks away from turning our lives upside down as we move to Congo! Someone said to me recently ‘Everything will be different there’. And it really will be. Everything we are in our comfort zone for here – language, food, weather, school, work, home – we will be flung out of .

It seems incredible that we have finally arrived at this point, and that in three weeks time we will be preparing to leave for the airport. When we first hoped to take this step we had no idea how we would afford it, what would happen to our house, what we would do about school, even what we would do to earn money until we went. But God has provided every single thing and we’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received. So, no excuses then!

There are still a zillion little things to sort out before we go. For me, my usual dreams when I’m stressed are about packing, so I could really have some nightmares about this! In one of the few dreams I’ve had about going and not being prepared I was mainly bothered that I’d arrived in Congo with no sun cream (the fact that at this point we had no suitcases, visas etc didn’t seem to be in my subconscious!). So I’ve bought a load of factor 50, we’re good to go.

Welcome home…

This year has started off with the welcome of our Friends Joyce and Henri along with their children back to Leeds. Joyce and Henri are the founders and directors of the charity we will be working with in Congo. It is so good to see them again after so long apart. We are looking forward to getting ourselves ready for the trip coming up.

Our plans have changed a few times over the last few months but it looks like we will be travelling to The Republic of Congo at the end of March all together which will be quite a trip as we look to take ourselves off in only a few suitcases. Thankfully we have some apartments that we are able to move to in Ouesso that Henri negotiated on his last trip.

We have all had our passports renewed over the last few months and have started to have our vaccinations. We have been able to discuss some of the home schooling that we will need to do for the first few months when we get there. We have also had some initial conversations regarding the technical needs that we will face when we get there.

Please do continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers over the next few weeks and months as we continue in our preparations. There is a lot to do.

Preparations continue

We were so excited when we sat down and worked out how much we raised from our sponsored family triathlon – £483! It’s such an encouragement to us all that we are getting so much support from friends and family as we start out on this journey, so thank you!

Over the next couple of months we have lots to do – focussing on learning French, applying for passports for the kids, starting our immunisations and continuing with our fundraising. Henri from New Sight is in Congo at the moment and part of what he will be doing is trying to find housing for both families for when we travel out in the new year. This is a big challenge so if you pray, please pray about that.

If you are on twitter please follow us @africatargetts. Thank you! A bientot!