We were greeted at the airport by Jeremy Beebout when we arrived on Sunday. Jeremy and his wife are missionaries with the Reformed Church in America. Jeremy works in the area of development, which includes setting up medical clinics. Susan works as a medical doctor at one of the clinics and she is a professor at the university. They have been in Niger for nearly six years with their three young girls.
Jeremy very generously helped us take care of some “first day” errands – things like changing money and getting our phones hooked up to the Internet. This is generally how trips to Niger go. You spend two days getting to Niger, then the next two days are consumed with preparations and traveling to your destination in the country, and then finally, you begin to accomplish your goals.
We had our first Nigerien meal at the Beebout’s home. It’s difficult to describe in words how delicious a Nigerien dish really is! This one consisted of a beef and vegetable sauce over rice. And the conversation was great too! I could listen to Susan all day tell stories about her work in the clinic. It’s not just that her stories are so interesting, but also, she tells them with much passion and energy. It’s always inspiring to talk to someone who is doing what they love. It seems clear that Susan was born to be a doctor. That day she told us about a patient who had some sort of auto-immune disease but she was having a difficult time figuring out which one. Apparently auto-immune diseases are somewhat prevalent in Niger, like in the United States. While statistically there is a fewer percentage of cases, Susan thinks that it may be because they are under diagnosed.
I learned some new information about marriages and proposals in Niger as well. First, a dowry system is used in Niger and there is a set limit by the Nigerien government, which is about $100. However, in Niamey, it seems like that isn’t always followed. One women went for about $1,000 instead. Apparently, the bride’s parents use the money to put on the wedding. So, in some ways, it’s not that much different than in the US. Also – and I found this even more interesting – the groom packs two suitcases for his bride. In case of divorce, they are the only things that the wife is entitled to. The husband gets everything else, even the children. The suitcases are supposed to be packed with clothing and gold jewelry.
Our next step – going to Maradi. I am looking forward to seeing our EERN colleagues!