Flooding has soured the lives of many Nigeriens this year but there is definitely an upside to all the rain that has fallen. This year, many who have not had a decent crop in 3 years, will be harvesting major bumper crops. Our Friend, Abedi (left), says he will have more than double what he gets in an average year. For the people in his area, we gave some teaching on better seeding practices and contributed enough improved seed, fertilizer and insecticide to plant 1 hectare. That way they could have a good part of their crop in “improved” mode and compare it with the rest done in traditional ways. Monsieur Abedi bought the extra materials and did all his fields the new way. He is wildly happy with what is coming up.
Monsieur Amadou, another leader in the area, planted some seed both ways. You can see the distinct difference between the traditional and the improved methods. We are so thankful that the Lord has provided the rains to make our contribution all the more fruitful. For the last two years, these people have had almost no crops. They measure their harvest by bundles of millet heads collected. Where Abedi would usually have between 300 and 400 bundles, last year he got 30. This year he thinks he will get 1000!
Another worry that has been eating away at the hopes of the people is the threat of locusts. With insecurity and major instability in the north, where the crickets form, there has been little done to stop what looks like it could be a bumper crop of crickets as well. Two weeks ago, however, the government announced that measures have been taken, planes made available and chemicals purchased. The fight will take place. The locusts should be controlled this year!
Thank you for your interest in what is going on in this poor country. Please pray for good crops for these people. Pray that they would see God at work providing for them.
Greetings from a wet Niamey. We are thankful for the rain that is making this year shape up to have bumper crops all over Niger. However, you may have heard on the news that there is flooding all along the Niger River. A couple weeks ago and for most of the year, the sheds in this picture are quite far away from the water. That has all changed this week.
In this second picture, the front pile of rubble is the house that my office assistant built when he was young, some 20 years ago. Behind it is the rubble of the house he was born in over 40 years ago. These have never been threatened by the river but last Saturday (August 18th) both these mud brick structures went down, melted by the rising waters of the Niger River.
Never in Boubacar’s memory has he seen the water come up even to the level of the trees in the back of this picture. Thousands of people have lost their mud homes. In this village, there was some foresight and all the furniture and other possessions were taken out and put in buildings on higher ground before the water came. Bringing relief in this kind of situation is not what we have been doing or have been prepared to do. Pray for us to know how we can help in the best way
Another concern is that of the school where Joseph attends, Sahel Academy. Most of it is built on a level a couple feet below the dyke that goes along the river. That dyke has been breached down river a bit. The water would follow the river perhaps but a bridge was built a couple years ago and it has stopped the flow of the flood plain between the dyke and the school. Therefore it is returning to the school level and threatening to spill into the school grounds. This hasn’t happened yet but the grounds are slowly filling up with water from a couple different directions. Pray that the river level will go down before there is much damage to the school buildings. School has been cancelled for this week. Pray that the school year will not be too upset by this event. Joe and his friend Brian are on the little flood plain with the dyke behind them. If you look closely, you can see the river almost to the top of the dyke behind them.
Pray that the Lord would save these people from a worsening of this catastrophe. Pray that we would see how we can be a help in this difficult situation. May it end up being a tremendous opportunity for the Lord’s glory to shine through his people as we respond to these needs.
Every time I’ve thought about writing anything the last few days, another bizarre circumstance has popped up that made me think I better wait. What all’s gone on? Well, some lousy things popped up for sure. However, some good things have happened too.
The agreement with the government has finally come through – a renewal for 3 years. We had a grad ceremony, of sorts, for our French language students. Olala! It is great to see and hear these guys handling French a whole lot better than they ever would have imagined doing!
I got to take the new Samaritan’s Purse (SP) director out to the school feeding program that we have been running. We had decided that we could no longer run it but it looks like SP will take it over. This village has done some good things. The leaders impressed Alan, the Director of SP Niger. In the pic they are in a garden that adds to the food that the feeding program provides. We and they need to be thinking about self-sustainability.
And one more thing for which many have prayed. Here are a couple pictures that tell the story of the day. The crops are coming up. Although the rains started later than hoped, they have been good. We are thankful that the teaching and help that we gave have made a difference. The picture to the left shows millet planted in the traditional way in front (Where it looks like nothing is growing at all!) of that which was planted with the materials we gave and according to the method we taught them. The pic below shows some nice millet coming up. It gives more and ripens faster. We are asking that God will give a good crop this year . . . lots to eat for the year, something these people haven’t had for three years.
Thanks for being with us in the adventure. God is doing good things for Niger and we are very happy to be a small part of that!
We have just begun our first experience with drilling boreholes. We work in an area with solid rock under the ground so the work was not easy. The first village, Kerta, was a sad one. These people have very poor water and difficult access to any water that is cleanish. Many of the village men came out to watch the drilling. Two holes were drilled to a depth of 80 metres and nothing was found. It is so sad to think that these people will continue without decent water.
The happy news is that the next 2 villages, Pansé and Lambounti, were different. Water was found on the first try at depths of less than 50 metres. It seems that it is great water and that it is abundant. We are overjoyed for them. Now, work is being done on the installation of pumps in these two villages. Pray that this work would be completed quickly and that this water would be a gift that would be seen by the people as a gift from the God who loves, them.
Water is LIFE! It’s great to be bringing them this kind of life and hopefully more!
Reading for the first time!
Celebrating Three Months of Hard Work!
What a great time! It was the evening of July 12th and we had 9 students who made it through three months of French study celebrating a great experience. The full gamut of study experience was there. Of course the man who finished with the best grade had already completed six years of elementary school but then there was a man who had no formal study history who was #1 in dialogue and another who had never been in school who came in 4th. It is so good to hear them speak. It is so good to see them catching on to reading. It is SO good to see the joy in their eyes as they say new things, as they hear new things with understanding and as they read for the first time.
Olala! This is great stuff. They are entering into a literate life style. They will be able to better care for their families and their communities. They are stepping into a new level of modernity which will empower them to make a much greater difference in the future of their country. I am one happy man.
Now we will see where the future goes. We hope to begin a second level in September. We will redo the first level hoping that many more will sign up and slog through the difficulty of getting a grip on this difficult language. Then, we are hoping that we will be able to open a first level class for night guards as the current class is for day guards. We will have to build in a lot of elasticity as well to help accommodate guards who have constantly changing work schedules.
As the French class was going on, there were also 6 students working with a tutor, financed by GDA, preparing for the exam that would give them entry to senior high school (brevet). They had a little party on July 20th. Four of the six had passed their exams and head to the next level of studies. Don’t they look great! They all worked hard and we are pleased with them all. We want to give our congratulations to Mamata Halidou Beidari, Oumarou Adam Yerima, Mohamed Elh Raliou and Mohamed Issoufou Al-Farouq. Good work Friends. God bless you as you step into the next level! I am planning on seeing you step into great works in the not too distant future!
Some sharp people working hard!
Going to l'école (school)! . . . some for the first time.
Well, we have begun! 11 Tuareg men, mostly day guards, are enrolled in our French class. They will work for the next 3 months on learning French – speaking as well as reading and writing. If they can improve their French, doors will open for them. Many of them don’t speak enough French to do a good job at guarding because, at some time or other, they have to speak with their employer who doesn’t speak Tamashaq, the language of the Tuareg.
We are hoping that this will provide a jump start on improving their earning ability as well as helping them become more involved in the community with a greater knowledge of what is going on. Our goal is to see this take off and be a big help to these 11. Then we will start a class for night guards and grow it out to meet the needs of as many people as we can. These men say they are ready to work! It looks like a great thing is taking off! May it produce powerfully positive results!
This is a man with incredible knowledge of the systems of Niger and of the people as well. What a huge help!
Here’s Boubacar, my administrative assistant and another breath of air in a dry and torrid world. Soon he will be going out with me to a village where he will give training on the rights and responsibilities of village health committees. Although the health services are seen as property of the local population and a local committee is established to run them, health workers often abuse the authority they have. This often results in insufficient medicines for the people. Systems are established that can circumvent this abuse but most villages and the committees that are to manage their health facilities are ignorant of those systems. Boubacar is very knowledgeable in the operation of health facilities and is ready to spread that teaching to help the villages break out of this sad situation.
Boubacar is currently the head of the management committee for the “Health Hut” in his village. He has served in that position for almost 5 years. He is also the president of the health committee for the greater region of which his village is a part. He has served for 7 years in that position. As such, he has made a great effort to put into place the management systems which keep operations transparent and running well. He loves to say, “With our system of autonomous management no one can even steal a single Tylenol tablet!” In these two positions he handles all the expenses for the local Health Hut as well as for the district.
The biggest burden on the heart of this good man is that of the people who are held under the fierce grip of HIV/AIDS. He plays a huge role in the fight against this plague and that is what he wants the world to know about him.
On a continent where accounting seems to be done, all too often, in the foggiest way possible thus making fraud easy to hide, this is wonderful. Boubacar is another great Nigerien who is doing all he can to help his population move ahead.
The Excellent Speaker
There are people in this world who seem to drain everybody around them. Have you met some like that? The wonderful thing is that there are people who bubble over with energy spent in great ways that help those around them. Adamou is one of those men in Niger. He is a leader that I love to watch. As he speaks, even though I do not understand the Fulfulde language that he uses, I see people following almost entranced by his thoughtful, sensitive words. His actions are those of a true man of peace, a man who longs for the advancement not only of himself but of his community. He gives himself tirelessly and without remuneration for any project that will benefit his community or those nearby. Working with this kind of man is a fantastic joy. He is of that quality that will help Niger come out of the doldrums of poverty and into strong and sustainable development. By the way, he just happens to be married to Aissa who came up with the dream declaration in my last post.
Adamou at Play - he helped a Canadian school by taking their "Flat Stanley" on several village adventures.
Had a great visit to a village this week. It was a restart to our community health education program. The meeting we had with the local committee was mostly an evaluation of what we had done through last year. As we were speaking about the goat lending program that we ran last year, our good friend, Aissa, came up with a phrase that is every development worker’s dream. Out of the blue, as we spoke of widows having new provisions through the goat distribution, she said, “Poverty is on it’s way out of town!” That is about as good as it gets.
Well, the fact of the matter is that there was another pretty wonderful declaration. We were talking about the village leadership committee and their willingness to help other villages move ahead with the same projects that we had done in their villages.When asked if they were ready, the president of our partner group said, “We are more than ready! We have our running shoes on and are just waiting for you to let us know.”
Well, we are happy about this kind of attitude. May it continue! May it grow! May Niger see poverty truly hit the road out of Niger and be GONE!
We had the privilege of visiting up north a few years ago. We slept beside huge dunes freezing at -2 degrees Celsius while in the day time the temperature had reached around 40 degrees above. I was stricken by a sense of the depth of the barrenness of the place. There was sand. There were rocks. There were some plants but they were all of that variety that the locals decry as the ones that come when NOTHING else will grow.
Imagine our amazement when we got to the oasis area of Timia. We saw oranges growing along with other citrus fruit. There were other plants as well! We were blown away. It was so beautiful and so productive. We found out that some of the oranges we had eaten in Niamey, had come from this oasis.
Those oranges typify to a major extent the dreams that I have for Niger. I believe that in the midst of barrenness, God wants to help people and bring them to a new degree of fruitfulness. I am looking forward to seeing Nigeriens get to the place where they can be ready for drought and continue living well with their own knowledge and abilities having learned some new ways and having received the help that would bring them to a new threshold of capacity. I am looking forward to the day when Niger becomes an orchard and feeds others. This kind of thing can happen as we work together and as we seek the help of that one who is Almighty and All Compassionate. It can happen! May we be instruments bringing it to be!