Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Animal Loans

So, as you may recall, last year was a very bad year in Niger. After two years of little to no rains, and the ever present problem of overgrazing in the zone, there was no pasture left and people's animals were dying as they desperately waited for rains and pasture to come.

Dead animals were everywhere and rotting stench was in the air.

Some NGOs would come through and collect all of the dead carcases and burn them so that other animals in their hunger wouldn't try to eat them.

Thankfully, rains came and in the end there was good pasture. Unfortunately the first rains up north were torrential and cause major flash flooding. Many lost whatever remaining animals that had managed to survive the drought.

After the rains came and the pasture began to grow the post-crisis work began. A large part of that work is helping people restock their herds. We do this through animal loans. The way the loans work is that the project (JEMED) buys the initial stock of animals for members of a community chosen by that community. They keep the animals for a number of years and when the time comes for them to reembourse those animals, instead of them paying it back to the project, the animals (not the same ones, but others of the same age and quality) are loaned back out to other members of their community. Around Christmastime our church raised some money to help buy animals. Here are a few pics...

Animals waiting to be branded after being purchased in market.

The branding fire.

Some of the beneficiaries. These are Wodaabe from the village of Tagalalt. Mallam on the far left is the president of the site, the others are two of his brothers.


My little sheep herder.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chez Hebert

A few weeks ago now we moved into our new house. You'd think I'd remember the date, but I don't. Not exactly Christmas like we had hoped, but we made it in just under a year after construction began and we are happy to be there just the same! It was a very long and arduous process, but worth it in the end.

Here's Micah helping Papa mix paint back in December. We spent far more time painting than we ever imagined that we would! And as you can guess, at times it was a bit of a challenge with a toddler running around. Playing in the piles of sand and gravel left over from construction. I think the yard is going to take a lot of work to get it looking nice.
Our spacious kitchen with more cupboard, drawer, and cabinet space than I know what to do with! I'm thrilled to have a place for everything and to not have to have stuff on top of cupboards and on counters collecting dust. I also love that I have an overhead fan in here!

The only drawback to this place is the water cuts. Now that the hot season is started we essentially have 12 hour water cuts everyday beginning around 8 or 9am. Kind of annoying when you would really love to take a shower at siesta, or there are dishes that need doing, but we make do. We have these 20 liter jugs that we fill up with water to get us through the day for cooking, cleaning, and bathing until the water comes back on late in the evening.

View of the living room from the kitchen, it's kind of a light sage green in color. (I mixed all the colors was quite an adventure.) We have an L-shaped open floor plan, the dining area is just to the left.

And here's the bathroom. It's the color of the sky at dusk. We put in a hot water heater so we can have hot showers in the cold season (or in the hot season, if there's water!). There's also an overhead fan in here too, which makes taking care of business in the hot season much more comfortable.

I didn't take pictures of the bedrooms as they're still in disarray. Micah's room is a nice sky blue and ours is a pretty shade of yellow.

We've heard that some people have asked, Why are Donnie and Allison building their own home? And can they even do that there? (Yes, we can!) Nothing in Niger is ever easy, very few things are up to Western standards, and "Renters Rights" do not exist here. We've heard stories over and over again of folks who have dumped money into fixing up a rental house here in Niger only to be evicted or to have the landlord come and double the rent. It costs a lot of money to fix up a place. Even though property values have sharply increased over the last 5-10 years, it was actually more cost effective for us to buy our own property and build our own place. We figured that in about six years or so, the money that we would have spent on fixing up another place and renting would have paid for our house. It's definitely been an investment on our part (all of our savings, basically, and then some), but the place is OURS. We will always have a house to come home to in Niger. We don't have to worry about landlords kicking us out or raising the rent. So, in a nutshell, that is why we bought property and built our own house.

Micah and Enoch

Enoch is the gardener for the neighbors across the street from the YWAM house/office in Niamey. He also fills in as night guard for us from time to time. He's almost always around, even when he's not working and he and Micah have become very good friends. Micah LOVES Enoch, and I think Enoch loves Micah, too.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Neem Flowers

The Front Porch

We've been very blessed with the return of our team mate, Stevie P. Not only has it been great to just have a team mate back here, but he has blessed us immensely by helping us finish the up the house and move in. Not only did he help Donnie finish up the painting and lay down the fake linoleum, but (with the help of Donnie) built us our beautiful front porch! This is quality workmanship, folks.

Steve hard at work.

The finished product! Thank you Donnie and Steve!!!


Someone found a Sharpie!

He found it while emptying out the contents of my purse.

It washed off WAY easier than I thought it would :)

Bush Taxi

Here's a picture of a bush taxi we passed a couple of times on our way down to Niamey last week...

I think I need to make a book, "Things You See on Bush Taxis".