atrium is the center of activity in our home. The front door of the house opens
off of it so it is the natural place to receive our Kwong friends. It is a three-faced pyramid rising
feet above a hexagonal floor which is almost 25 feet across at it's extremities.
The roof is thatched in the traditional Kwong manner, which gives it welcoming
ambiance for Chadians. It serves as our living room and dining room,
and is justifiably the part of the house Mark is most proud of.
6 or 7 years we need to change the grass on the roof of the atrium. If it is
done properly (which it wasn't this past year when this picture was taken) the
thatch will not leak a drop even in the most severe of downpours.
While the Atrium may take the honors as the center of our home, and the
office may be where we spend the most time, the kitchen is arguably our favorite
place to be. Diane presides here. The
two kerosene burners which Mark used for years as a bachelor have been
complemented by an LP stove which makes life a little easier. Any heavy baking
is still done in the word burning stove out back.
Bedroom and Office
There's not much to say about these rooms - they look pretty much like any
other. Mark built the bed we're sitting on from African mahogany. Lots
of windows (16 all together) make all the rooms of our home bright, fresh, and
airy (and very, very dusty at various times of the year.)
comes from a hand pump 100 yards away and is brought to our house on a push
cart. Until recently, we stored the water in a barrel in the kitchen (behind Diane in
the picture above) and then used a dipper to move it wherever needed -
into the tea pot, or on top of our heads, or wherever. Now, however, we pump it up our modest water tower
(right) and enjoy all
the benefits of running water.
Our electricity is
provided by solar panels. These panels produce 12 volts DC current and charge
lead-acid batteries similar to those in automobiles - but much larger.
A wonderful contraption called an "inverter" converts the electricity
to 110 volts AC current to run the various appliances we bring out from the
States (computers, power tools, etc). When, as sometimes happens, there isn't
enough sun to keep things charged, a 5 horse Briggs & Stratton hooked up
to an 80 amp Delco car alternator keep us going (right).
For the technically minded, we have a 750 amp hour battery bank composed of
four 325 Ah 6 volt deep-cycle batteries that weigh 100 lbs each. They are
charged by four 120 watt panels that cost - gasp - $500 each, and are made
of glass ... which is why Mark gets very nervous when the neighbor kids
start shooting birds with their slingshots .
As you drive through Chageen, this is what our home looks like from the road
(below right). And as you fly over, this is what our home looks like from
the air (below left - Our home is just left of center, and the long building in
the upper left is the evangelical health clinic. The long gray roof to the right
of our house is the church.)