Back in July when I held the pre-Niger fundraising party, I was amazed at how many people came to my house to hear about life in Tokoye-Bungou, and at how generously all of those people gave to help improve life in the village. In the days that followed, I was increasingly amazed at the number of friends and family who sent checks to help out, even though they weren’t able to come to the party themselves. My fundraiser was a spur-of-the-moment, small-scale endeavor, but looking back on my trip I’m just thrilled by all that we were able to accomplish together. So, in hopes of inspiring anyone who thinks a small gift or a small effort won’t make much of an impact, I wanted to share this list of what all those wonderful donations were able to do for 600 people in a remote village in Niger.
- My original trip was delayed from July to November, which worried me because July is one of the neediest months in Niger. Luckily, I was able to connect with a volunteer who lives very near to my village, and he was able to transport over $500 to buy millet and other grains, which established a cereal bank in the community, allowing villagers to purchase food at a reduced price.
- Malaria-carrying mosquitoes are the deadliest animal in Africa. At just $10 a piece, we were able to provide every pregnant woman and new mother with a treated mosquito net, to help prevent the spread of malaria. And since mothers share their bed with 2 or 3 of their young children, we potentially helped at least 150 people avoid contracting this deadly disease.
- Fruit trees are both a source of vitamins and revenue for people in Tokoye-Bungou. We were able to establish a fruit tree nursery on the school grounds, as well as provide a fruit tree to the family of each student, in hopes that the kids would benefit from the nutritious fruits, the parents would be rewarded for putting their kids in school, and any proceeds from selling the fruit at market would help the school to purchase needed materials. Each tree cost less than $1.
- The leaves from moringa trees are also a fantastic source of vitamins, and a popular and tasty addition to local dishes. This amazing tree can even aid in filtering water. For only $9, we provided enough seeds to plant 6,000 moringa trees in the village!
- The new school teacher in Tokoye-Bungou told me he wanted to teach the students how to care for a vegetable garden on the school grounds. Much like the fruit trees, this project would provide both nutrients and revenue for the school. We were able to purchase seeds, watering cans, fertilizer, insecticides, and pay for lessons from a master gardener.
- A couple days after I arrived in Tokoye-Bungou, a millet-stalk school classroom in a nearby village burned down to the ground in an accident (they were trying to smoke out some fire ants that were biting students!). Since the government wasn’t able to replace all that was lost, we were able to buy the school a new blackboard, as well as slates and chalk for every student.
- I’ve already mentioned the great efforts the villagers have shown in growing their peanut seed bank. Now they are very excited to have a permanent structure to store the peanut stocks, complete with tin and cement.
- I helped a friend buy food for her daughter’s wedding celebration, which was kind of a sneaky way of buying a meal for the entire village.
- Two friends of mine have adorable little boys who I was sure were suffering from intestinal worms. I accompanied them to the local clinic, and paid for medicines to treat the worms. Treatment cost only $2 total!
- As a thank-you to my hosts, I gave them money to purchase a sheep. Reuben and I did the same thing on our last trip to the village, and they told me that they’d been able to sell that sheep later for a significant profit. I’m hoping they’ll be able to do the same this time.
- With the remaining funds, I helped a Peace Corps volunteer in the nearest city provide textbooks for the city’s high school. This is the same school that students from Tokoye-Bungou will attend, once they get to that level.
Again, a huge thank you to all my friends and family who contributed to these efforts. A lot of great things happened — all for just about $2,800 total!!
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