Friday, June 29, 2012

Transitioning out

So our family has just left Niger. We will be gone for one year. Our organization has 5 year contracts where you spend 4 years in country (Niger) and one year back home in your passport country. I will tell you more about what that one year looks like soon, but first, let’s chat about leaving Niger. It has really been a mixed bag of emotions for us. We are really excited to get to be with our families. In our 4 years we have missed many family events, new nieces and nephews and the close relationships that come with proximity. But we are also grieving a work that we love, very fulfilling jobs and great friends in Niger. This has become our home and it is hard to leave that as well. I find myself really wondering if I am going to still fit in in Canada?

One of my friends wrote this just recently, and it really resonated with me in many ways- “I pray to God that I am never numbed to the vast difference in the quality of life here compared to Africa. I hope I never get used to the poverty there and the affluence here.” I hope I always wrestle with that and think of that when I make decisions and that we don’t fully get sucked into North American culture. I am not sure yet how to live where two worlds collide so constantly. I think one of the hardest things about being an International Worker is that you are torn between two cultures, two realities and two “normals” and yet you don’t truly belong in either of them.

SO here are some thoughts.

What I am NOT going to miss

-the traffic chaos and horrible drivers and the anxiety of driving (I didn’t take this picture. I am usually too busy gripping the wheel to take photos while driving). You are sharing the road with tons of taxis, most of whom have no clue how to drive, donkeys, camels, bikes, motos, goats and camels and people running out onto the road. The driver’s have very little skills and road rules are non-existent (well in that they are not followed). We see accidents very very often.

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- the huge lack of grocery choices and the pain in the butt just to go get groceries, which was so frustrating and time consuming.

- very little greenery or flowers or natural beauty. While the desert has its own beauty, it is not what I personally found to be refreshing. I miss mountains and streams and flowers and grass! I need Vitamin G (Green!)

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- beggars. I obviously didn’t take a photo of them. But it was hard on the heart and emotionally tiring to every time you go out have people coming to the windows of your truck, approaching you on the street and always asking for money. There is no possible way to give to everyone, and yet it felt hard hearted to say no when they were so clearly in need. And this happens everyday. I am looking forward to a rest from that.

- the lack of options for working out. I like the gym. I like variety. With the lack of options and the high heat of Niger, my recumbent bike got a lot of action at night. But I am really looking forward to classes, a gym and bike pathways!

Bennett and I working out together to a workout video.

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- the heat. average days of around 35-40 degrees? No thanks. Hot season highs in the 50s? Forget it! You get used to it, and I know I will be missing it come winter, but I am looking forward to a break!

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What I will miss

- the people. There are not enough lines to write about all the people we love in Niger. We have such good friends and good memories. We will miss a lot of these people dearly!

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- the team. We work with such an awesome group of people in Niger. We knew when we left Canada back in 2008 that we would be leaving family and it would be hard. What we did not expect was the blessing of GAINING a new family in Niger. People who are there for the same reason who have given up the same things, and you have instant bonds. I am so grateful for our team and we work very closely with some of them, and further from others, but we are so blessed and enjoy our times with them immensely. It is going to be a hard year being away from such dear friends.

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Cecilia and Kerrianne and I (sorry no photo with the three of us!) work together very closely and are often together. Kerrianne joked that she went through withdrawl when a whole 24 hours passed that we were not together. I am so thankful for these awesome women who work with me at the Girls School. Coworkers and best friends- how lucky am I !!NVOC-10

- the work. Paul and I are passionate about what we do in Niger. We would not be there if we were not, that is for sure! Over this next year we will be traveling around Canada talking about the work in Niger and doing some advocacy and education work as well. I am looking forward to seeing many of you readers personally to share more about it.

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The year end photo from our second year at the Girls at Risk School. Taken June 20, 2012IMG_5281

Paul working in his element training two apprentices some welding skills while they are working on building latrines for a refugee camp.

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So that’s all for now. We are in the midst of a huge transition and even now I feel like we are just scratching the surface. These are my thoughts about transitioning out of Niger. Coming soon, the issues of transitioning IN to Canada!

We are headed out tomorrow to Winnipeg for National Assembly meetings. Hope to see many of you there!

1 comment :

Cindy said...

Excellent post!
Give yourself some time, there were so many things back in NA that I was not prepared for...let me know if you are in our neck of the woods!