Posts for Country Niger

Hassi’s healed hand (and heart)

I grew up as a “dark skinned” girl, but since I arrived in Niger, that has changed. I am now being called white.

Many times, I see what that means in kids’ eyes. Some of them cry when they first see me; others hide themselves in their mother’s clothes. When they do that, the challenge begins: I aim to show them that a “white girl” can be nice, too.

Niger_HassiAmadou-6

That is what happened with Hassi, a little girl who would not let me even take pictures of her at first — she would run, hide herself, cry, do whatever it took to keep her distance.

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Mead Minutes: A journey around CURE

bottles of gasoline in Niger

bottles of gasoline in Niger

Good morning from Niger! I completed my last walk about the neighborhood in Niamey — for now, at least. The markets even had a few sheep for sale, although I did not notice anyone interested in buying one. I guess after the costs of Eid, the price asked is not possible. Now the standard shops with fruit, vegetables, and roasted meats dominate the markets. Along the road are displays containing old bottles filled with greenish and brown fluids. These bottles are filled with gasoline; the darker ones have oil mixed within. Motorcycle drivers make a quick stop, pick their flavor, buy a liter, and zoom off once again. Walking back through the residential areas I greet many, many young kids. Bon Jour!

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Healing through henna

We had a henna party at CURE today.

Henna 2

Henna is a plant that is commonly used to make a dye here in Niger and around the world. The leaves are crushed into a powder and mixed with water to make a kind of paste which is then applied to the skin, leaving a long-term (but temporary) tattoo. Here in Niger, women get henna tattoos for every possible celebration: a wedding, a baptism, a holiday, for any kind of party, and sometimes, I suspect, for no real reason at all, other than the fact that it is beautiful.

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Field trip for some, life-change for others

We recently had an outreach trip to Kiota, a village 80 miles away from the capital city of Niger.

Our group consisted of a doctor, pastors, nurses, and a few other staff members. We had one goal: to show Christ’s love through the explanation that there could be healing for many of the disabilities that had hindered them in the past.

It was a long day. We met at the hospital at 6 am, and after two hours of driving through paved and sand roads, we arrived to over 100 people waiting for us. Unfortunately, many of them had conditions that we could not treat, such as dermatological issues, glaucoma, or elderly people who had general pain. We had a nurse who screened and organized people to make sure the doctor would have time to see the cases that could be treated at CURE.

Even on the midst of the crowd we could feel the village lifestyle: people taking time to talk to each other, making food right on the spot, and, especially, saying thank you over and over to each of us for coming out and caring for them. For us it was only a field trip, but for those born with treatable conditions, it was the beginning of a life-changing journey. Read the rest of this entry »

Mead Minutes: Because these kids need us all

Good morning from Niger! The past week, as I walked the different neighborhoods surrounding the CURE Niger hospital, I found there to be a feeling of emptiness. Gone were the numerous flocks of sheep. Gone were the sellers of knives and machetes. Gone were the young men selling different piles of spices and wood. Walking along, I noted the occasional signs of previous activity. Along the red, dusty roads were scattered ashes, remnants of fodder, a curved horn here, a jaw bone there, and occasionally a pile of some rather foul smelling green stuff I did not explore further. Eid has come and gone. Life goes on. Read the rest of this entry »

The Week in Photos: Lots of ways to have fun

A collection of photos from CURE locations around the world.

CURE Ethiopia | Photos by Bryan Fay

Lucho wanted to play model when I took her picture. Despite this intense face, she kept laughing between photos!

Lucho wanted to play model when I took her picture. Despite this intense face, she kept laughing between photos!

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Mead Minutes: The greatest sacrifice of all

Good morning from Niamey, Niger. Another warm morning has arrived. I am an American sitting in a West African country that speaks French sipping coffee made from beans that grew in the Dominican Republic. I feel truly international today.

The week went quickly as clinics and surgeries filled the days. After work I like to go for a walk to get a feel for the neighborhood and see the sights. Recently the Muslims in Niger celebrated Eid al-Adha, or the Great Sacrifice. The sheep and goat population drops dramatically during this holiday.

As I walked along the dusty roads I saw many clusters of sheep. Buyers and sellers negotiated prices. Purchased sheep were then bound and loaded into trunks or stuffed into back seats, mounted on roof racks, balanced on motorcycles, or gathered in trucks to be taken home. Displays of sharpened knives and machetes for the sacrifice and preparation of the animals bordered the flocks.

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The story of a smile

Happy Friday, and happy World Smile Day! To celebrate, we’d like to share Sharifa’s story with you.

Sharifa is one of many children whose smiles have been restored through cleft surgery at CURE. Thanks to the CUREkids program, we’ve been able to follow her story since she first came to CURE Niger in May.

It’s incredible to see the difference one surgery can make. It certainly made quite a difference for Sharifa! Here is a portion of her journey at CURE Niger, as told by Jamile Lopes, our CUREkids Coordinator in Niger.

May 20, 2014

A photo of Sharifa Mouctarou from Niger. Learn more at http://cure.org/curekids/niger/2014/05/sharifa_mouctarou/

‘”I’ve never known someone who hasn’t insulted me because of my lip.’ Comments like that don’t leave you very quickly; that was Sharifa’s response to our question about how many supportive friends she has. The more we spent time with her, the more her shyness wore off to reveal her true colors. Brave, spunky, and willing to speak up for herself, Sharifa has had to endure quite a lot. After being born with a cleft lip, the teasing and beating have been incessant, so much so that she doesn’t even go to school. We asked her what she’d want to learn if she did go, and she simply said, ‘Zero.’ After reading our puzzled faces, she elaborated with, ‘Zero, un, deux, trois, quatre…’ She wants to learn numbers. It’ll serve her well too, since she aspires to be a clothes tailor.”

May 25, 2014

A photo of Sharifa Mouctarou from Niger. Learn more at http://cure.org/curekids/niger/2014/05/sharifa_mouctarou/

“It is encouraging to see Sharifa playing and having fun during the weekend. She tried to teach one of our staff members how to play with the rocks, but nobody is as fast as her. Monday is the big day!”

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Mead Minutes: Give careful thought to your ways

Good morning from Niamey, Niger! A fan is gently spinning from the ceiling above. The temperatures are already in the “sticky-warm” range. Coffee has a great taste but the warmth is not as welcome as it is in the fall weather of western Michigan.

Over the past week I have taken time to wander the town, as is my practice. Niamey is similar to many towns in equatorial Africa. Small shops and wheeled carts dominate the streets. People gather their few items and create a shop selling enough to survive on. Small children are seen everywhere. Over 50% of the population of Niger is under 15 years old.

Coming to CURE Niger has been something I have looked forward to this year. Starting early in 2014, I felt a stirring to come to Niger to see what God is doing here. A talented orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Stefano, has recently arrived to join the CURE Niger medical team. Dr. Stefano will work with Dr. Jean Francois to make a strong surgical team. The door opened to come to Niger and offer my assistance in helping Dr. Stefano and the CURE staff here in any way they wished.

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The Week in Photos: AKA The Week in Smiles

A collection of photos from CURE locations around the world.

CURE Ethiopia | Photos by Bryan Fay

Diribu! This photos says it all. Since the first time we met back in my second month in Ethiopia, this little girl has stolen my heart. She’s so loving and adorable. She LOVES to kiss your hands or the back of the camera when she sees her own photo. What a sweetheart!

Diribu! This photos says it all. Since the first time we met during my second month in Ethiopia, this little girl has stolen my heart. She’s so loving and adorable. She loves to kiss your hands or the back of the camera when she sees her own photo. What a sweetheart!

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