Sunday, October 22, 2006

Just a minor blip!

So by now many of you know the story, but hey, heres an official one. So Friday, after the giraffes, I spent the rest of the day in bed again really sick, with a 40degree fever and brutal muscle aching. We were supposed to fly out that night to Paris, but I didnt think I could make it. A Niger clinic (nice and clean!) took blood and tests showed negative for malaria, and that my body was fighting something. We figured if it was going to get worse I should probably be in a First World country at least, so i dragged my butt onto the airplane that night. I even threw up in their departure lounge. Wow...I'm so sophisticated :) Anyhow, luckily my fever broke during the flight and I actually rested a bit. The next morning in Paris we went to a hospital just for a checkout, and to my surprise, they insisted on admitting me! Yikes! So they took me over to a hospital with a Tropical Disease wing and set me up like royalty. If royalty means a yellow rough gown, no tv (that worked for the first while at least) or music or visitors and not so good food. Because Bennett is so young, he wasnt allowed on the wing (which i totally understand) but Paul also had no one to watch him, which meant he couldnt come either :( ANd thus began my days of boredom and missing them. The fever dropped and they kept running tests to try and find out what I had. To no avail (even today they are still running tests to find out). THey just kept me hydrated and gave me painkillers for the muscle aching while my body fought and won. (WOOHHOO Body!) I was released Monday morning for good behaviour and 48 hours fever free.
All in all it wasnt too bad. I was more worried about Paul and Bennett, since they were alone in Paris without their translator and guide! However God is good and they did fine, I bounced back, and more France stories to come in the blog!
We also saw Rush Hour 3 (the movie) being filmed right across the street and saw Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.
Also, it may have been a normal hospital, but how many of you can truly say even your hospital area had a view of the top 1/4 of the Eiffel Tower? Ah ha! I'll take the perks where I can get em.

The Goat delivery

Someone back here in Canada gave us some money to bring to the field. They wanted us to use it directly to impact some people, with no administrative fees from a big organization or anything to water it down. SO after much discussion with the team leaders, we bought goats. Yup goats. You see, buying a goat here is more than just a goat. Especially if said goat is a mother, with a young child goatie. Especially if this mamma goat is producing lots of milk which can be both drunk and sold to help the family. You get the point I think.
Anyhow, we bought 3 healthy mamma goats, all with healthy babies and who were producing milk, and gave them to 3 guards who worked for the group and who all had families to support. Even though I was sick, I made it to the first goat delivery before being dropped back off at my bed. We packed all 6 geet (yeah i know thats not plural for goats...but i like it and Jill will catch the reference :)into the back seat of the Toyota Prado. Everyone i think must have gotten a chuckle out of us, but hey, we were on a mission! We delivered goats, made some happy families, and hopefully gave them something tangible to help make their lives better. The goats were a fantastic gift to give and to reach the people directly. Good idea dad :)

Giraffe safari

So our last morning we were there I was feeling a little bit better when I awoke and wanted to catch the opportunity to go see the giraffes in the wild. There is a reserve park about 35 minutes from Niamey. So off we went about 7am. We got a little lost (not lost-we simply had a divine appointment to go too far, pick up some Peace Corps people and get to pray for and encourage one young lady in particular) We found the giraffes and probably saw about 12 total. We drove to nearby them, then parked and walked quietly. Bennett was quite excited to see them and kept pointing and exclaiming when he saw them. Here are a few pics :)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Our million star hotel !

So I was out of touch for a while since we went out into the bush. We took a 5 hour 4x4 drive into the NE (i think) of the country to a place called Bani Bangou. Road was actually not to bad, all things considered. Out there, we went several times to a little mud hut village called Soumat to spend some time checking out the development projects that Samaritans Purse has there. They are building bio-sand water filters and linking it with education. so we went to the village three times, once to see the molds and cement being made for the filter casements, once to look in on the general hygiene education being taught by a local lady, and once to see them cement molds emerge after curing. What great technology to give them, the guft of clean, easy, non breaking down water sources.

The men building the filters

Rows of completed filters

A thirst for life- clean water!!

We also went to a project sponsored by SP as well as Unicef and World Food Programme. It is a nutrition program for malnourished children where they offer hygiene and education, weight and height measurements, a doctors visit and rations of CSB (Corn soy blend) that is highly nutritious for the child. they track them and watch them grow over the months. I hung out there all morning and watched the process and talked with the workers.

The women learning healthy food preperation

A young child being weighed in the Nutrition program

Then at night we slept outside under the stars. Who wants to stay in a 5 star hotel when you can bee under the entire heavens of stars. great views, but a little noisy with all the dog,donkey,goats,calls to prayer and drums going on at all hours of the night.Yes dont worry, we had mosquito netting. Only drawback was they only had electricity for a few hours a day, and thus you never had cold b(or even cool) water, which when its 45 degrees, is a major must in my opinion.

Here is the coordinates of where we were:
Bani bangou main tiny town:
N 15°2'4.85"
E 2°42'13.97"

Tiny village of Soumat
N 14°57'1.73"
E 2°43'1.13"

In Africa, you are never alone

Its a funny thing to be stared at all the time. Here you are never truly alone unless you lock yourself in your villa. In your vehicle you are like the fish in a fishbowl seperated only by the glass. Hordes of young kids, with theiur hands pressed up against the glass-tapping, smiling, waving, pleading, begging. You leave the vehicle and you become like the Pied Piper, follwed by crowds. We went to a plateau overlooking the river and were the nights entertainment. A dozen or so herders came to offer their donkey ride services (Bennett was afraid) and then they stayed and watched us all night. They sat on their haunches only a few metres away and stayed until after sunset, until it was so dark we could only see them when they smiled and their teeth showed in the dark.

Paul and I walk down the streets, Bennett in the backpack, and a crowd of women surrounded us. They marvelled at the backpack, which in theory is close to how they all carry their babies around in a cloth sling on their back, but that fact that the MAN was carrying the child was so crazy to them. What a shock to their way of thinking. The talked and told us we should give them Bennett and he was very beautiful, which i am told is their way of appreciating him and they didnt really expect us to give him up or anything like that. The women normally keep their distance, the children flock to us, and the men are more subdued and usually only wave, if that. Even when we were stopped in the bush and hadnt seen hide nor hair of a person for many kilometres, within a few minutes they began to emerge from behind the millet stalks like some sort of freaky horror picture, which is great when you need people to help pull you out of the mud, but not so great when you are looking for a quiet shrub to pee behind.
All this to say, in africa, if you are alon, Enjoy it. Because it will end in a few seconds.