Driving across the Sahel, even on a smooth road with little traffic, takes a longer time than going the same distance in the states. There are many people walking along the side of the road. There are traffic “bumps” now and then which require slowing down and almost stopping when reaching a “bump” and traffic checks by government personnel. So, our car trip to Zinder and EERN school there yesterday took four hours from Maradi.
It was a day like one in June in the States – beautiful with sunshine, trees with leaves, flowers blooming, many animals (cattle, sheep, goats, camels) eating what they could find it in the fields. Well, there wouldn’t be camels by the side of the road in the States! Also, most farming there is subsistence farming – small family or village plots mostly clustered close to the road. In the States, we drive past large farms, rarely seeing people walking along the road. In Niger, it is common to see people working their land – family members of all generations, working with small tools or gathered under a tree during a break.
We arrived at lunch time for the students at the EERN school in Zinder. The children were holding their bowls of beans and rice with a little sauce outside while eating with their fingers as they interacted with their friends.
We met with about 20 kindergarten and first grade children in Zinder. These children are sponsored or in need of sponsorship by people in the States. Each child was given a sheet of paper with her/his name on it. Kara led a short art session in which each child traced her/his hand and then added decoration to the drawn thumb in order to make a chicken. Ibrahim took photos of each student holding his/her picture. We are eager to share these with the sponsors!
On our way back to Maradi, we decided to take a side trip to Aguie even though it was late afternoon by then. In just a few short years, the school there has been transformed from mud and grass structures to block and concrete buildings! One block of classrooms is complete and another has been started – due to our Laying the Foundation campaign. And, the latrines are in the process of being built. This wonderful change in the school is financed by our very generous donors, as well as from a Rotary Foundation Grant. The schools director, teachers, students and parents are so thankful!
We’ve included more photos taken while in Zinder and Aguie (below).