Let’s start with full disclosure — I know almost nothing about blogging.
Still, I have a hunch that, if I can figure it out, it might be the best way to stay in touch and share pics and stories during my upcoming trip to Niger. So here I go…
This will be my second trip back to Niger since I left the Peace Corps. In 2006, I took Reuben to visit the country, since I’d made it a condition of marriage that he had to promise to travel with me to my old village. I knew he’d never understand me if he didn’t see it for himself. We had an amazing trip, and Reuben really developed his own passion for Niger. Although, I don’t know if he’d say he understands me perfectly yet!
The 2008 trip will be sans Reuben, since I’m traveling for my work with an international NGO (let me pause to say that I LOVE my job) and since the cost of flying there is a bit prohibitive. My colleagues and I were supposed to go to Niger in July — in the midst of the ‘hungry season.’ Unfortunately, the Nigerien Embassy must have misplaced a stamp or something because they didn’t get our visas issued in time. So, since there were scheduling conflicts in August, a month of fasting in September, and more scheduling conflicts in October, we moved our trip all the way to the beginning of December. Not the official ‘hungry season’ anymore, but in Niger it’s pretty much guaranteed that you can find a crowd of hungry kids anywhere at any time of year.
I am flying to Niger two weeks ahead of my co-workers (leaving November 19th) so I can spend some time in Tokoye-Bungou Sud, my old village. And here’s why I’m so excited about that… First of all, they’re awesome people and I miss them every single day. Secondly, when my friends and family heard that I was going back to Niger, some started offering to send along some money to help out my village. That gave me the idea to host a fundraising party. It was the most incredible thing!!!! There was an enormous response — better than I could have ever imagined. I was truly touched by people’s generosity. Many who weren’t able to come to the party even sent checks in the mail. Really, I was so moved, it was awesome. So, now I’m feeling this tremendous responsibility to do something really lifechanging during my time there. I already sent $500 of the funds (thru a Peace Corps friend) to buy millet for the village. And, I was very excited to receive a phone call from the village schoolteacher, Harouna, and Dogo (pictured) last week, telling me that they are in the process of purchasing food. And, they said, “Thank you very much!!”
My other project ideas are to fight malaria by providing treated mosquito nets to families who don’t have them; to purchase a bunch of fruit trees and other trees to plant throughout the village, which can provide a great source of vitamins and income; and to help the school with income-generating projects, such as gardening or raising livestock. I might also help finance a nearby volunteer project to provide schoolbooks in the high school where my village kids would attend.
So, I’m doing a lot of research to make the trip the very best it can be. And, I’m counting down the days!!
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