Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The rains keep falling

Greetings from a wet Niamey. To our surprise it rained yet again today! This is a month later than the rains last year and it seems each week we are getting at least one rain. Thankfully it wasn’t too hard tonight, and I only say thankfully since it is too late to help any crops and could ruin those that are laying on the ground and not gathered yet. But it sure does cool it down and help with the dust!

So we are still alive and doing well. We have been really busy lately so I am sorry we haven’t had much time to write! Here is a little update on our recent days:

Paul is doing full time Tamasheq studies. He works 4 days a week with Mr. Y (who you may remember from a previous post). Paul is thrilled how well this relationship is working and that Mr. Y has great patience to do the repetitive drills and memory things required to help Paul learn language. Other than that Paul is busy fixing the batteries in our truck, getting a generator up and running for the short term dental team coming next week from Edmonton and fitting a few bike rides in where he can! A few weekends ago he also participated in the annual NUTS tournament of Softball. Now NUTS stand for Niamey Universal Tournament of Softball, but personally i think it just means they are NUTS for playing out in this heat all day long! Paul’s team did awesome and lost in the final match by only one run! Giving them a proud second place they worked hard to earn! ( i will make a separate posts with pics from this event in the next few days!)

Bennett and Arielle are on school vacation for the next weeks for their Fall break. This of course means more time with mom and dad (which makes our language hours harder to get!) but we are loving the time thus far. I am especially enjoying how Bennett is excited to be learning more of the alphabet and how to write his own name and what letter many words start with. Many times a day he comes to me with a word and wants to know what letter it starts with and how to write that letter. He is also quite the artist and enjoys coloring pictures for his family! He is a high energy child who zips around and makes us laugh all the time! His French is also improving rapidly and it is a joy to hear him talking with other kids in French. Arielle is also enjoying vacation. We fill up the kids pool some mornings outside on the terrace and practically have to drag her out of it at lunch time! She also loves to sing songs. While she still doesn’t have a loud voice (thus you have to listen carefully) she will happily sing you one of the new songs she has learned at school- and they are all in French too!

Chantelle is still involved in language studies, but most of her language time is spent out in the community. She participates in the women’s hut class literacy project twice a week and visits the families of her friends many mornings where she can bring her notebook and talk and ask questions- all in Tamasheq! This morning was especially encouraging as she spent several hours with the elderly mother of one of her local friends and could actually carry a conversation and understand the majority of what was going on around her! It is always a good measurement to see how you do when faced with someone new who you aren't used to and who isn’t used to your way of speaking either. Yay for progress! She is also prepping for work with the dental team next week out in the village where she will be part of the Tamasheq team doing translating, prep work and whatever else required to make that clinic a success! She is also reviewing all the contract documents for the school feeding program with a fine tooth comb and learning all the reporting and finance requirements to track for the donors. This in itself feels like a huge feat somedays! Soon we will be able to share pictures with you of this school feeding  program up and running!

So that is all for now! We are doing well, moving full steam ahead, and learning so much these days! Thank you for your faithful prayers, words of encouragement and love for us. I am sorry we haven’t been able to reply to each of your individual emails some times, but know you are dear to our hearts.

Here are a few pics of our recent days!


Rebecca and Aminata during our weekly Tuesday morning visits to their hut.


Hoasting Miriama and Aminata at my house a few days laterIMG_3302_resize

Aminata giving Bennett a piggyback ride


The kids eating their lunch together at a plate aside from the adults (who shared their own platter a few metres away) Bennett ate a bit, but Arielle was the champion of eating until it was all gone!


My neighbour friend Fatima modelling for me. I needed a rice shot for National Office and their gift catalogue, so i sent them a series of shots and she was in a few of them to give them a human element if they wanted it. She had fun and took a big bowl of rice home after for her family. During the off-harvest season, we (our whole team) give a bag of rice to each of our employees and this helps carry them through the month when grain prices are high.


The lady where I buy most of my vegetables. She is a very cheery women and we always enjoy our time to chat! She works hard to support her family with this little stall.


Here she is holding Bennett and Arielle

The man’s stall where I buy my large rice bags, flour and sugar. He has very fresh sugar and flour and I have rarely found any bugs in it when I sift it after freezing the bags. He has a large enough clientele to go through it often and keep it fresh, which I appreciate! Plus his helper is a Tuareg so I get some language practice in too! You can also see bottles of cooking oil on the left, bowls with assorted dried beans and corn down in front, a green bowl with balls of soap on the right and big yellow bidons of cooking oil on the far right next to Paul!

Until next time!



Thursday, October 08, 2009

The view from outside the City

While I enjoy living in the city of Niamey, with all the people, mixed cultures, market experiences and little luxuries (electricity!) that brings, I do also really enjoy getting out of town on excursions!

We got out of town 3 times this month, always with different people to different places, and really had a good time. We went back out hiking to the rocks across the bridge out of town again this month with Jordanne Tjosvold. The kids love Auntie Jordanne and had a blast climbing around with her.

Then these three girls approached us. They had been walking back to their village carrying loads of firewood.

girls3webWe were in the process of digging a hole to hide a new geocache, so we quickly finished up while Paul distracted them with throwing rocks with the kids off the edge of the cliff and they joined in throwing rocks and had fun. I don’t think they noticed we were hiding anything. haha! They spoke minimal french but the art of charades served us well once again. We gave them a few cookies and hung out and they happily posed for me a few times and then walked with us back down the hill towards our truck when we were down. They were so beautiful and vibrant!




Another weekend we went out of town the opposite direction with the Brooks family. We are looking to rent a little piece of land by the river with them where we can go camping.  Turns out there is no new one available yet that we liked, but there are two families who share a spot (with one other family) that are gone for a year, so we are taking over their lease until they get back. woohoo- cool camping under the mango trees here we come!

The camping spot (the river is just in the background behind the trees)

The little storage shed and cement table. We also have a little solar shower tent. Good thing we brought our camping supplies!

And Bennett loves all the trees that are there to climb! It is significantly cooler under the trees compared to in the sun and we can’t wait for our first trip out!

Exploring the area around the campsites… I felt a little like an actor in the  “children of the Corn” movie.

This is millet, the main staple crop for Niger.

Our camping partners!

Then on the way home we decided to take “a shortcut”. You know what that means….we were slightly lost :) Rather than heading back to the main road, we took the meandering road through the crops, through villages and eventually found our way back to town. What an adventure! We took wrong turns, got stuck in a traffic jam of goats, had children chase us and villagers wave and have big huge smiles. They joys of the bush!