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And other questions you've been dying to ask...

The Huang family newsletter


march 2019
We know, we get it. We tell you we’re moving to Africa, and you wonder if we’re living in a mud hut; or if we have to fetch our water from the river every day; or if we poop in a big hole just next to the cooking fire that we build from fallen tree branches gleaned in the forest every morning.

So here are some of the answers to the questions you’ve been wanting to ask, but haven't had the guts to.
Google "African mud hut" and this is what you get.
So…do you guys live in a mud hut?

No, and though we are familiar with the round, mud hut and thatched roofs from other African countries, that particular architectural style doesn’t really exist in Gabon.

We live in a single-story, three-bedroom, two-bath apartment. It is, in fact, the largest place by surface area we’ve ever lived in as a family. It is attached to two other similar apartments in a building unimaginatively named “Triplex.”
The Triplex. Our apartment is at the far end of this picture.
Do you guys live in the same town as the hospital?

You could say that. The hospital is very, very remote, and there isn’t much of a “town” to speak of immediately adjacent to the hospital. The hospital property, about 120 acres (48 hectares) total, is divided into two parts. Firstly, there is the actual hospital, which is made of a number of buildings situated on roughly flat terrain. Secondly, there is a large hill and ridge that overlook the hospital, which has been terraced and onto which have been built a number of houses and apartments. It is on this residential station that approximately 4 dozen (including children) people live. All of us on the residential station, African and expatriate alike, are associated with the hospital and its outreach.
This steep slope, nicknamed "Cardiac Hill," sits at one end of the hospital compound. Up the hill and amongst the hilltop ridges lies the residential station.
So your place is fairly Western style then?

It is Western style, if not Western quality. There is no doubt we live in relative comfort. We have access to 4G internet most of the time. We have running hot and, uh, lukewarm water, flush toilets, and showers. Our kitchen houses, among other things, a refrigerator, freezer, gas stove, and washer/dryer. Each room is equipped with a ceiling fan, which are rarely turned off. Our furniture, shipped over from the US, is mostly Ikea.
Kim and Nolan work in our well-stocked kitchen. Can you see what they're making?
But it’s still Africa. The walls are painted concrete, not drywall (making it difficult to place hooks into the wall). The floor is uneven, and the walls never meet at a true right angle. Wood particles fall randomly into small piles from our ceiling from the boring insects in our attic. Cockroaches/ants/spiders/mice/geckos escape in and out of long but narrow cracks in our walls through which we can see daylight. The windows are covered by nothing more than screens and glass shutters, so dust and dirt fly freely into our house 24 hours a day, to be mopped away by our house helper twice weekly.
You guys have running water and electricity?

Yes. The mission station is situated next to a decent sized river, and the station hosts its own small water treatment and distribution network. Thus, the water that comes out from our tap, while fairly brown, is nevertheless clean enough for washing and showering, and one pass through a water filter makes it clear enough for drinking.

The electricity has been a pleasant surprise. The aforementioned river hosts a hydroelectric plant, which supplies electricity to a large swath of the province, including the hospital. It is, however, fairly unreliable, and multiple power outages occur weekly. The hospital, though, has a 400 kVA diesel generator that kicks in automatically when the national grid power goes out. It is extraordinarily reliable and provides enough amperage to power both the hospital and the residential station. Thus, it is rare for us to go more than 10-20 seconds without electricity at a time.
The exhaust pipe for hospital generator up top is suspended over 10 feet above the ground.
What do you do with trash?

Most of it gets burned. Unburnable trash (used disposable diapers, for instance) gets collected once a week and taken to a small landfill on hospital property.
Wow! Reliable electricity, hot running water, fast internet, even a landfill! You know, for living in Africa, you guys aren’t really roughing it.

Yeah, we know. And…um…we’re kind of OK with that. It gives us many opportunities to be thankful!

And now...for some family pictures!

Solène gets her first haircut in Africa.
We recently visited a village church with another family, where Nolan enjoyed Sunday school under the tree.
Getting the kids to pose for a picture can be ... challenging.
Recent newsletters:
Anatomy of a coup
Figuring (or failing at) food
Arriving sight unseen
Transitions and tantrums
How French is like dying of dysentery
     
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anDrew: docdrew@gmail.com

Kimberley: kimboley@gmail.com
Copyright © 2019 The Huang Dynasty, All rights reserved.

This newsletter is about Andrew, Kimberley, Nolan and Solène Huang: their journey from the US to Canada to France and, ultimately, to Bongolo Hospital in Gabon, West Africa, with the Post-Residency Program of Samaritan's Purse (World Medical Mission).

The views and opinions expressed here are solely ours, and they do not necessarily represent those of Samaritan's Purse or World Medical Mission.

The Huang Dynasty PO Box 820152 Vancouver, WA 98682 USA
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