Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Visiting Tagantassou

This past Thursday and Friday I had the chance to be out of town and visit the Marineaus and the village of Tagantassou. This is one village that we are focusing on to start a new holistic development program. I was a little nervous to head out of town (especially alone on a local bus) with the state of the current security and political situation in Niger, but in the end I felt a peace about it and choose not to fear. Turned out I had no problems at all, except for the smelly-ness of the local bus!

While out of town I got to spend some excellent time with the Marineau family as well. Always such a blessing to spend time with them!

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While in the village, Sophie and I got to sit down with one of the ladies there called Maimouna. I like to stop at her house every time we are in the village to talk. With a mix of tamasheq and french, we have a great time! That day she was out front in her yard making straw mats. This is one of the major little industries that the women in this village do. She makes about 1 1/2 mats per day, weaving them from millet stalks dried over from the last harvest. These mats sell for about 700CFA ($1.75)  She had her niece there helping too, so maybe she would finish 2 complete mats that day.

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Some finished products rolled up against the wall.tagentassou7

I decided to get in there and give it a try again. I managed to get comfortable with the looping knot that they do to hold the pieces together, but they were much faster than me! I told her next time I would come early and we could make a whole mat together while we talked. These mats are important to the women here and provide one of their few sources of cash income. When we built the hut class recently, we bought 25 of these mats from the community and they were very happy!

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The main reason for my last minute solo trip was to nail down a few last details for our school feeding program. You see, we are in the midst of a process to apply for a grant to fund a school feeding program for this village and the people in a 3 km radius. Daniel spent a lot of time talking with the school director to gather a few more details about a vaccination program they recently had come through and a few other things we needed for our proposal.

This is one of the classrooms in this 2 room school. While definitely better than a grass hut class, it still is in serious need of help.

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As you can tell, it is in rough shape, there are not enough desks (and some are broken) and there are not enough school books to go around. When our school feeding program kicks off in October, we expect to see even more kids show up at the school and put a greater strain on their resources. So some of the things we are attempting to address is to bring their books to children ration to 1 book for 2 children, supply annual de-worming and measles and meningitis vaccinations, hand washing stations etc, all in addition to the 2 nutritious meals a day per child. All of this for a budget which equals just 33 cents per child per day for the 9 month school year! (as my brother commented- you can't even buy a pack of Ramen noodles back home for that!)

We are also hoping to partner with others to reinvigorate their classrooms. Some of the ideas kicking around right now are to work with a short term missions team to paint and clean up and repair the classrooms, or do that with the local MK school here in Niamey as a service project, or add it to the project budget and pay the community,etc.

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We will keep you up to date on the project as it progresses!

1 comment :

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