Meeting Houge – Six years in the making, by Rev. Tricia Petraven

Tricia Tihitche Houge March 2016

Tricia, Houge and Houge’s sister Tihitche

For months I have been looking forward to this trip of a lifetime to Africa, not only to see the work that Remember Niger is doing, but especially to meet Houge, a young girl I have been sponsoring for six years.

Yesterday our group flew to Zinder, where Houge’s family lives on the grounds of the school. We were taking photos and meeting the school teachers when Kara pointed out a stately young woman who was walking over to us. “Tricia, this is Houge,” she said.

I froze in my tracks (which is pretty amazing in hundred degree weather) and then hurried over to meet her. She is tall and elegant, with a gentle spirit and a soft but strong voice. Coleen Colton, another volunteer who is a French teacher in the USA, helped us communicate by translating. I told her how proud I was that she is doing so well in school (she is one of the top students in her grade) and that I heard she is planning to study medicine in college. She confirmed this and said she knows what she needs to do to succeed and she is determined to do it. I could see by the look in her eyes that she would be capable of doing anything she would set her mind to, and I gave her some gifts, a set of water colors and a set of colored ink pens, and a small painting I made. I told her that in the USA, medical schools love to accept students who are smart as well as creative, something I learned when I taught at a liberal arts college. I said I hoped the art supplies would inspire her creativity, and that it would help her to become a skilled and talented doctor. She thanked me and gave me a necklace of beads she had made herself, and tied it around my neck. I couldn’t love it more even if it were made of million dollar gemstones! We talked about school and opportunities, and then I met her family, who were all clearly so proud of her. She has a younger sister following in her footsteps studying at the same school.

It was wonderful to meet them, and I feel awed to know that this was all made possible by Remember Niger and by following the spiritual prompting to sponsor a student so many years ago. Houge is a girl whose life is completely changed by opportunity to study, opportunity to learn, to picture a future different from those surrounding her because of going to school. Imagine what God will do with these students! Anything is possible, and I’m glad to be part of this meaningful adventure!

by Tricia Petraven