I had the opportunity to spend time with a new American friend this weekend. Anna teaches the children of Reformed Church missionaries here in Niger. Often, when missionaries have young children and live in a remote area they will recruit a teacher to come from the United States to teach their children. I spent two years in Kenya right after college doing just that. It was a great experience that transformed my life. It’s difficult to imagine that I would be working in Niger without it.
Anna and I visited the Tsibiri Boarding School Saturday morning. While most of the boarding students were busy doing their Saturday chores, such as washing their clothes, cleaning their dorms, and combing and braiding hair, as well as playing games, the 6th grade students were busy studying for their end of the year exam. This exam is a very big deal in Niger. If a student doesn’t pass, then he or she cannot go onto middle school. Students can take it twice, but they have to redo 6th grade as well and wait an entire year to retake the exam. The pass rate in Niger is normally around 50%. I’m proud to report that the pass rate at the Tsibiri Boarding School is always above 90%.
While giving Anna a tour of the school, I noticed that they are getting low on food supplies. They have traditionally received a lot of assistance through the UN’s World Food Program. However, with the economic downturn, that assistance has been greatly reduced over the past few years. Fortunately, a youth group at a supporting church raised over $4,000 through a hunger strike fundraiser – which means that the school’s food supplies will be replenished! The staff and students are incredibly grateful!
My attention will soon turn back to the states; I am due to return this week. I always have mixed feelings when I leave – I am eager to get back but also miss friends, and staff, teachers and children in the schools here in Niger. I’ve already been planning for the next visit, in July. So, I’ll be back soon!