Story & Photos by Tracey Feil. Translation by Houlda.
‘When I was a small boy, I wanted to become a doctor, but I did not have the opportunity to become a doctor of people. But now I am a doctor of aircraft.’
Nekob is the maintenance team leader at MAF Chad’s base in N’Djamena. His eyes sparkle and his face is lit with enthusiasm as he talks about what he does to care for the Grand Caravan and Cessna 182. He ensures both aircraft are in good health: he carries out preventative measures, such as thorough checks every 50 hours. And he is ready when a diagnosis and cure are needed! ‘Becki [the pilot] might call me and tell me that the fuel gauge is not working and so then it is my job to work out the problem and do the maintenance to fix it, just like a doctor,’ he explains. ‘When it is mended, then I am very happy.’
‘God was good to me in my life because I had a hard childhood. I come from a poor family.’ It was 15km walk to his school and he would often need to bathe when he arrived but he went every day, even though it would take him 3 hours just to get there. Four scholarships available for engineering training were available and Nekob decided to try for one of them. As he tells the story, he joyfully describes the obstacles that he knows God helped him to overcome.
‘I did not have a radio so I did not know the [scholarship] exam was announced. On Sunday, I went to the church. My cousin met me and asked, ‘Why are you here? It is the exam today - did you not hear on the radio?’ But I had not heard. I didn’t have the pen, I didn’t have paper. My cousin gave me a pen and I went to the exam but I came late.’ The invigilator let Nekob sit the exam but told him, ‘You come late but you must finish with everybody else.’ Sitting the engineering scholarship exam alongside 150 others, Nekob thought his chances were slim. Three months later, the results were announced. He had gained the scholarship! ‘I am grateful. I believe God is there and He is good and He did this in my life.’
Having completed his basic engineering in Gabon, Nekob went on to work with national and multinational companies such as Air Chad and Air Afrique, gaining eleven further qualifications with Airbus and Boeing.
With all his expertise, why does Nekob choose to work for MAF? ‘I wanted to work in my own country and stay with my family. I want to help my country and MAF are helping here. I knew it was where I wanted to work. I feel very, very honoured to work for MAF because MAF allows me to put my skills and qualifications to work to help reach out to unreached people with the gospel.’
Nekob’s sparkle dims as he shares his hopes for the future. He speaks slowly and seriously now. ‘I was born in the war; now I am old in the war in Chad. Now I pray to God to help us to make Chad better so for our sons there will be no war. Maybe I will not see it because I am now old, but maybe there is hope for our sons.’
Along with Arsene and Dieudonne, Nekob is part of the team that ensures MAF Chad can bring help, hope and healing to the isolated people of this country. His eyes alight again, he says, ‘When I see an aircraft take off and land, helping others, then I am very happy like a doctor who has helped his patient.’