Whether support takes the form of doing, praying, giving, or all three, the rewards that follow are equally rich. This year’s diverse team came from opposite ends of the country and very different levels of previous involvement, yet the gifts of each member beautifully blended with those of the other team members: a French teacher, for breaking down communication barriers; a principal for providing comparative education perspective; a young buck, for providing momentum; and a practiced leader, for excellent leadership and endless wisdom. Therefore, how appropriate it is that the final hours in Niger were spent in fellowship with each other and our Nigerien friends.
Just as the country changes through the years, the RNC team has likewise changed according to our experiences. For Coleen, seeing the happy and successful children in the schools that she has for so long supported and even helped to build offered a sense of peace within her serving heart. For David, this once-in-a-lifetime experience offered a striking new perspective on what it means to be an educator and a advocate for progress. For myself, I finally affirmed the love that had been, for so long, brewing inside of me for Niger and helping the people here. For Kara, this trip has, like all the others, continued to remind her why she works so hard and continued to strengthen her resolve to keep pushing the organization forward, onto new horizons.
I cannot speak for the veterans, but from a first-timer’s perspective, this trip offered an abundance of evidence supporting my conclusion that the Remember Niger Coalition has made an unquantifiable difference in these communities. As often as the recipients of this aid are gracious, there is that much more work to be done. For every student given the invaluable opportunity to attend a quality school, there are dozens of children who have no educational opportunities available to them. For every community with a reputable school, there are dozens of villages with no schools at all. These harsh realities both exhibit the graciousness of the Nigeriens and reinforce the continuing and dire need in Niger.
As the ambassadors of the Remember Niger Coalition, we thank you for your support and prayers for us the RNC schools. We hope that our experiences will resonate with you as they have and will always resonate within us.
Au revoir, Niger!