Monday, September 19, 2011

22 facts


miriamatahirouMiriama- a 13 year old girl in our Girls at Risk School

Getting ready for the Day of the Girl coming up on September 22, here are 22 facts for you to know about girls' rights!

1. Over 500 million adolescent girls and young women live in the developing world.

Girl safety

2. 21% of girls age 15 to 19 around the world are already married.

3. Almost 50% of girls between 15 and 19 years old believe that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances.

Girls at school

4. Each extra year of education increases a girl’s income by 10 to 20 per cent and means she is more likely to have a smaller, healthier family and to start to break the cycle of poverty in which so many communities are trapped.

5. Girls literacy rates are 13% less than boys worldwide.

6. Fifteen percent of girls worldwide can't read and write.

7. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 33% of girls between 15 and 24 years old can't read and write!

8. Only 88% of school aged girls are enrolled in primary school - and only 77% actually attend on a regular basis.

9. Only 60% of all secondary school aged girls are enrolled at school.

Girls and poverty

10. A sixth of the world’s young people live on less than $2 a day, including 12 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa who live on less than $1 a day.

11. 27% of girls living in the least developed countries are involved in child labour.

12. Young women who are economically empowered in decent, secure work or successful small businesses, and who enjoy equal rights to property and land ownership, are better equipped to create a solid future for themselves, their families and communities.

13. An economically independent young woman has more power in the home to make decisions that affect the health and education of family members.

14. If girls could start successful business or get good jobs with decent pay, both countries and households would experience economic growth.

City girls

15. A girl is much more likely to go to school if she lives in a city – in developing countries school attendance for girls from 10 to 14 is 18 per cent higher in urban than in rural areas, and 37 per cent higher for young women between 15 and 19.

16. Girls who live in cities are less likely to be married at an early age – for example, in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, 50 per cent of young women in rural areas are married by the time they are 18, which is about twice the rate of young women in cities.

17. There are at least 100 million street children globally - approximately 30% of those are girls.

Girls' health

18. Girls are discriminated against even before they are born, as the practice of female foeticide and sex selective abortion demonstrates. An estimated 100 million women are ‘missing’ as a result.

19. Half of all new HIV infections occur in people aged 15 to 24 - girls represent the majority of new infections in this group

20. 20% of women who are now 20-24 gave birth before age 18.

21. Girls have a longer life expectancy than boys - we live almost 10% longer as a group.

The next generation

22. Girls are the mothers of the next generation. Give a girl the skills and opportunities she needs in life and as a woman she will pass them on to her children.


So leave a comment and tell me, which number strikes you the most?

*statistics courtesy of Plan Canada- Because I am a Girl.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Innovation for moving a 5000 pound shipping container

So for the past few years there has been a giant 20 foot long, 5000 pound shipping container sitting in my front yard. Not the most lovely of lawn ornaments I assure you! Because we were not yet ready to launch the men`s apprentice program ministry, and Paul enjoyed having his `shop`nearby we kept it in our yard.

But now that the men`s program is starting, and we need to be able to keep a good work-life balance, I am thrilled to finally be moving this out of our yard!

But things in Niger are never easy. Our yard is tight quarters with overhead electrical wires and a couple of trees. It was a tough job to get the container in the yard in the first place, and no less tricky getting it out!

Paul, our teammate Roger, and three Tuareg guys spent the whole day working to get this out of the yard. They used a truck with a winch to pull it all different ways, a truck with a bush bar to nudge and move with a tow strap and sheer willpower and thinking through each step of the way! They made slide planks out of wood boards, rollers out of metal tubing and used some old, tired farm wagon wheels as well (which did not last too long).


Using the winch to pull it out from the wall. Poor old tires!DSC02356


Now comes the hard part of a 90 degree turn. We used boards to slide, metal rods to roll and a truck on either end to push and pull. We didn't even ram the wall or anything! I was impressed with all the manoeuvring and work the men did to do this right!DSC02364


Coming around the corner to go out our narrow gate, barely wide enough for the container. Here they are jacking up one end to reposition a roller bar.


Night starts to fall, only 6 hours into the job! The container is slowly making a tight 90 degree turn.



The awesome team of Paul and Roger!


Bennett had fun sitting in the truck with Daddy while he worked the winch. (As a fun side note, Bennett has lost 3 of his 4 front teeth recently and has a huge gap grin!)


It made it out the gate! Without a scratch! It was fun to see the Tuareg guys learn and watch and work alongside Paul and Roger. I think they really enjoyed the challenge too!


Other visitors to the evening show- a baby and Momma hedgehog


Check out this cutie! Bennett held him and he walked around on his hands and tickled him.


And the view the next morning. A lovely container sitting in the road outside our house (after  making yet another 90 degree turn!) Now the next task is to find a truck to haul it to it`s new home!


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

First Day of School

So yesterday was the first day of school for my kids. As I was getting them ready I thought “where did the summer go? When did they get so big and independent”

Then I realized my little boy is in GRADE ONE! There is no turning back now, his road to education has begun and he can look forward to the next 12 years or more of school. Wow. It makes me wish we had just one more year at home to play, do crafts and be a little boy. Arielle started kindergarten and she was so proud to tell me when she came home after school the first day that she even managed to get up the nerve to talk to her teacher! 

I am sad to see them go. They are both excited to make new friends, learn new things and tackle this next adventure, for which we are so grateful!

SO here are some pictures!





Arielle is very happy to have her best buddy Lily in her class!


Sunday, September 04, 2011

Why a short term mission?

I began to write this post to show you some of the pictures from one of the ladies (Tracey) who was just here on a short term team. I was not with them all the time in the villages and I often find looking at things through their eyes is refreshing, like cool water to my heart and a reminder of how once you are here a while you sometimes can “forget” what is around you.

And then I got this email from one of the men who was on the team. It is profound and full of insight and a wonderful challenge, so I wanted to share that with you as well. So enjoy both of these glances into Niger and the work of our team here.










Why a Short Term Mission – by Jim
Proverbs 3: 5,6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding: in all your ways  acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Helen Keller epitomized the adventuresome spirit, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Seeking the Father’s heart, developing a shared love, pursuing relationship, living beyond self, coming to understand ‘no respecter of person’ all are a result of my struggle to live God’s way and genuinely experience the gifts that he brings into my life.

He explains these gifts in Gal. 5:22 and Acts 10: 34 – 36 – affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity, willingness to stick with things, sense of compassion within the heart, conviction that basic holiness permeates things and people, ‘finding’ myself in loyal commitments, able to marshal and direct my energies wisely. I can’t achieve these ends reading a book or counselling with others. My nature is to learn by doing and so I if I am to achieve my relational goals I need to work – come alongside.

Short term missions have allowed me to touch fingers with an autistic Mexican boy, pray for a Mexican suicide survivor in his hospital room, pick fruit with a Leprosy affected person in China, hold a Chinese Down child in Banna, and now talk dreams and desires with an African man aspiring to achieve a welding ticket.

I have come to realize that God’s desire is not that I be who I am, but rather be the man that I am becoming. And so the ministry of reconciliation takes on an even deeper meaning to me. 2Cor. 5: 12 –21 …’a new life burgeons. God settled the relationship between us and him. He has called us to settle our relationship with each other. God has

given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. God uses us to persuade others to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ our friend now …. The Message (loosely). I see my task as to impact one soul at a time and I want to understand how that person approaches life each day.

When I first went on a mission trip I was overwhelmed by the requests for money or pleas for aid to escape. I flippantly spoke of how difficult it was to survive in my “arctic’ environment and that my lot was basically the same as the person requesting cash (no money left at the end of the month). I have come to see how shallow these arguments are.

Niger’s Sahel life is a daily encounter with malaria, cholera, dysentery, yellow fever, parasitic worms, starvation, heat, religious oppression, termites… and my lack at the end of the month is only evidenced in my current bank account – it doesn’t take into account my real estate, my investments, and all the social network provisions that I have put in place – and all the result of the happenstance of being born in this land. I don’t know ‘life and death’ as a daily reality except in coming alongside my brothers in a missions setting.

The subtle nature of sustainable NGO projects are beginning to make sense to me but only through walking those dusty roads.

I saw this somewhere

Watch you thoughts they become your words
Watch your words- they become your actions
Watch you actions-they become your habits
Watch your habits-they become your character
Watch your character it becomes your destiny

Short term leads to realization of destiny – pretty profound for a two week stint.



a well where the water is a long ways down, but a significant improvement over no well at all!


The blessings of an overcast day to keep the heat down310631_10150261216151887_696941886_7890454_125369_n

The streets lined with garbage312021_10150261223631887_696941886_7890528_1324056_n

life in a village of huts and animals


Giraffes in the wild – the Zoo will never be the same again!


The orange clouds of a sandstorm blowing in


Sunset over sand dunes