Thursday, August 26, 2010

In Black and White


A little look at this past week when we went visiting. A good time as always!


Rebecca and Miriama get ready to start making our “noon meal” We always bring the bread! Here Miriama is just picking off the leaves from the stems. This is a local plant and we eat the leaves in sauce every time we come. It’s our favorite!20100824-_MG_1552

Then Rebecca pounds the wet leaves into a green paste.


While the sauce is cooking, we chat with ladies and sometimes we play with the kids. There are always kids there. Especially if Bennett and Arielle come, then the neighbourhood pours in to play with them too. This is Fatima. She is there every week. She calls us her family. She is precious.   


This little guy is Ibrahim. He is a little trouble maker. Always stealing toys and wanting attention! I took this shot carefully. He has not pants on. Ever! And I found him clutching a little toy car of Bennett’s firmly---between his thighs. His nose always runs and is full of sand and snot. He eats dirt. He has a distended belly that points me to think he has worms. His smile is huge though! What a kid! We hope to see him grow up healthy and stay around long enough to learn some things!! (and yes…i admit to bleaching that little toy car when we got home before it went into anyone’s mouth!)

20100824-_MG_1556   20100824-_MG_1560

Finally the food was ready! We break the bread and dip it into the sauce. The sauce has tree leaves, tomatoes, squash, garlic, salt, hot peppers, potatoes and spices in it. It is quite yummy!


Bennett took this shot. All of us enjoying our food!


And I know it’s not black and white- but check out those leaves!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Flower child and making friends

First of all- Arielle the flower child. Mom spent some time trying to remember how to French braid last week. I remember my Mom used to braid my hair like this when I was young. I can’t for the life of me seem to get good at it. Maybe when I see my Mom at Christmas time she can give me a few pointers? Arielle felt so pretty with her hair she wanted to dress up and go pick flowers. So we did!





20100808-_MG_1418-2 20100808-_MG_1429-2

A few days after that, the kids went to play in the schoolyard across the street.

Bennett brought his bat and ball to play with the neighbour boy Boobay (who is 6)

    20100816-_MG_1508-2And where two children are playing, more will surely follow. Two became four.

20100816-IMG_1517-2Four became six.


And six eventually became at least a dozen or more! 20100816-IMG_1520-2All the kids badly wanted their photo taken. In fact if I pulled out my camera they would start all running towards me, completely stopping what they were doing, which is what I had wanted to take a photo of in the first place!


But chaos and all, it was fun to see the kids playing and enjoying themselves outside the gate. I know it can be a little overwhelming for them when 12 kids swarm them, none of whom speak French or English, but who all want to play with them, and of course their toys!


And what was Arielle doing through all of the rough boy play? Making friends of course!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tidbits and updates Aug 2010

Well with a bunch of random things going on, I thought I would write a little “Tidbits and updates” blog !


We are in rainy season here in Niger. If you follow International news you may have seen stories about some of the rain we are getting here. The key for Niger is to get the rain slowly but constantly. With this much mud and sand it needs to soak in and flash floods are common. Sadly this year the rain has been very concentrated in some areas with heavy downpours. Figures are reporting 10,000 people homes have been washed away (they are made of mud and sticks afterall!) and many crops are ruined.

Here in the city we have had several heavy rains lately too, one just yesterday!

Here is the skies starting to foretell the coming storm. I love when it is overcast as it keeps the temperatures down into the 80s! mid 20s!


Then it started to pour. For at least 90 minutes this is what the outside looked like. These two water spouts are from water on the roof that is directed off. Made a nice river in our front yard and out our front gate.


For the kids this was GREAT news. They so rarely get to play in cool weather and rain here that each rain storm we pull out their little umbrella (the second one is broken) and their boots and they have a blast!

  20100810-IMG_1462-2The Africans think they are nuts running around in the puddles while everyone else hides under trees and inside. But we let them play! This is the huge lake that formed in the road outside our house. It is this season that we are also extremely happy we have such a great 4x4 vehicle to get around. Many roads become impassable and it’s not uncommon for us to stop and pull someone else out of the mud!


Arielle loving the rain! A warm bath was in order after this, but she had fun!  20100810-IMG_1467-2

And here is a picture of the Niger river from the bridge. It is higher than I have ever seen it and houses along the edge are under water.


Here is a picture from another expat here in Niger showing their friend’s house underwater.



Yesterday was also the day that Bennett could take off his cast! The doctor at the clinic here was on vacation. Plus they did such a poor job making the cast in the first place that I had re-plastered it last week anyhow. So i thought to myself---how hard could it be to take it off?

I got out my tools…


And Bennett got all ready to say goodbye to his cast…

20100811-IMG_1479Turns out all I needed was five minutes and a sink of warm water! Here is am using the snips but just to cut off some of the fabric as it unwound . It was sooo easy. Like unwrapping wet paper mache!



Grain Aid

Grain continues. This week because of the rain we set up inside. Thankfully since we only have 2 more months of food delivery, there is room inside to set up our tables and stay out of the rain! Even with the rain, people still showed up to collect!

20100811-IMG_1475 20100811-IMG_1476-2

Welding shop update

This whole week Paul’s group of guys have been working hard getting desks built.

We are happy to report all 30 desks are built and are now in the painting stage! Next they will finish the laquer and attach the wood tops then start on the 40 chairs!



A picture my co-worker got here in Niger. Look what is all in that truck…plus the truck itself is falling apart!


Monday, August 09, 2010

Great days


Last week was full of great days. Days where we can tell we have really hit our stride, built relationships, learned some language and are doing exactly what we were brought here to do. We love it!

Here are some pics from one of those days for me.

It started in the morning with a few hours of language class, which is always good. Then I had the unique opportunity to go speak with some of the elders (all men) for the local Tuareg community. They had invited me to their meeting to speak to them about a new project that is coming to their community that is targeting young, unmarried girls. The program last two years (much more to come on this project in the month to come!) and during the program they are not allowed to get married. This is for girls ages 12-18 only.

I was able to speak quite frankly with all these fathers about the reasons why the project is targeting those girls, and all the reasons why it is important for them to wait to get married until they are older and more developed physically and psychologically. We touched on the health effects of young girls who are having babies way too young, married off at 13 and pregnant and having babies soon after that. Early marriage and maternal death is a huge problem in Niger. More to come on that later too. The very cool thing is that we had true dialogue about this sensitive issue. They even recounted some of their own stories about girls who had committed suicide when married at 13, and another who had died giving birth. Often these issues are cloaked in secrecy. Amazing that they seemed willing to talk about it and really talk it out, even amongst themselves. What an answer to prayer!

One of the men said “we know you (meaning all of us on our team) and we know you care, and that you only bring things that will move us ahead. We have seen that and trust that with our hearts.”

Thank you God for showing us once again that relationships are sooo important and worth every minute!

Then after that I rushed home to make lunch, then the kids and I went back out to hut class! We got there a little bit early and visited with the family who lives on the school grounds. When we walked in, they were applying henna to the feet of the daughters. They do this often before they travel or weddings or Ramadan (which begins Wednesday).

Here we are under the “hanger” which is a straw and fabric roof type tent that they always sit under. You can see Arielle in the background playing, the father lounging with his tea and other people. Oumou here is getting her feet henna’d.



They started by using black electrical tape to make their design lines. I thought that was pretty creative use of electrical tape! Then they cover it with the henna goop and wrap the foot in plastic bags. You can see on the left one foot wrapped in plastic bags and the other foot getting the henna.20100805-IMG_1328   On the right foot- the bag comes off.


After sitting in the hangar for a while the girls all showed up and we went into class. Over the summer we are still using a public school classroom. So nice not to sit on the floor for a while :) Some of the girls are already travelling and others will leave soon. Ramadan begins soon and  many are heading out of town to their villages and families out of town to celebrate and spend the time with them. With only 4 more lessons until we finish module 2, a break is in order! Will be a few months until we start up again.


Doing math





Great times with a great group of girls. While we are super busy with a few more projects coming up, I will sorely miss seeing them all every week!