Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Maradi Revisited

With pictures.

Here is a photo of the new fistula hospital being built.

Here are the people who took orientation

This girl is paralyzed from the neck down.  You would not realize it from her smile and the joy she expressed when she saw us.

This is a picture of some old guy next to an old truck

Here are some general Niger pictures.  The sacs below are filled with the famous red onions of Galmi.  They really are good.

That's all for now.

Blessings to all

New Roof

With hot season coming we have decided to redo the roof of our housing unit.  Today we got a quote on what it would take to cover our (hot) tin roof with grass mats.  Having received the quote today we have given the crew the go ahead to cover our roof with grass mats.  Hopefully this will help keep the house cooler.  The mats will apparently come down before rainy season and be stored for the next hot season.

When it is done we will share some pictures.

Blessings to all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Last week we were in Maradi for Orientation.  Mainly learned some historical facts about SIM, some of the do's and do not's, and some great information of cultural nuances.  Also went to visit a couple of SIM stations in the area to see what was going on.

One of the interesting things was the concept of the Kola Nut.  This is a rather large, caffeine infussed nut, that you give as a gift to others on special occasions.  Supposed to be good when you are travelling and don't have access to Tim Horton's or any coffee.  In Canada you can tell the Tim Horton's addicts by their tremble and their eyes constantly on the look out for the next Timmy Fix.  I guess in Niger you can tell the Kola Nut users by the tint of red in their teeth.  Ah the excitement of caffeine.  Where would we be without it.

Grace actually got one of these nuts for a local lady on the compound and she was apparentlet quite delighted. They are cheap, about 200 francs, and are a great gift to give to people in the area.

Not that you needed a Kola nut on the road between Galmi and Maradi.  It was a grueling 4 hour ride on mostly pothole heaven.  More holes than road.  Vehicles often took off to dirt roads on the side.  Often the bus driver drove in the ditch for smoother running.  Plus the road is quite narrow so when you come to oncoming semi traffic you have to slow right down and pull well over to the side.  Then of course you have to deal with people and livestock on the roads.  So glad the bus had air conditioning.  The constant speeding up and stopping, and jerking sideways, certainly helps keep one awake.

There is great work being done by SIM in the Maradi area with a new Fistual clinic being built and the ongoing work at the Leprosarium.  We hope and pray that the final stages of the Fistula clinic will be soon completed.

Blessings to all

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Life in Galmi can create a strong sense of sadness and of joy.

I consider the role of the doctors and the circumstances they deal with daily, and I admit that I am glad I do not have to do what they do. I know that there are times of celebration for lives saved, and times to be sad for those lives lost. Is it much different than a North American hospital? Certainly there are life and death situations there as well, but, and this is a very big but – not to the extent it is here. The doctors here, in my opinion, are made of special stuff in order to hold onto their sanity and strength. That special stuff can only come through the power of Christ who provides for all those who serve Him.

As for me, I am grateful that He gives me, and Grace, the strength to provide in our support roles as well. He gives us the opportunities to interact with others around us and to be His servants. As I type this, the song “You’re In the Right Place” by Petra is on and it says how He will see us through – we are in the right place. How true.

You have probably heard the saying that we need to live our lives in a way so that when others see us they see Christ in us, visible and ever present. I guess I have to ask this question: When we look in the mirror and see our own reflections, and consider our own lives, do we see Christ looking back at us? Maybe that is a question that needs to be more prevalent.

Grace and I have just gone through a very rough week of illness ourselves. Some malaria combines with a gastro/intestinal problem. I never felt so sick at one time and I am so grateful it is now over. I am also extremely grateful for the doctors and other medical staff that took such great care of us.

Monday, March 14, 2011


The heat is on.  No way to turn off the furnace.

The other day I (Orest) was walking home from work, which is about a casual 5 minute walk, when after a couple of minutes I could literally feel the moisture zapping out of my lips and dryness seeping in.  That kind of gives a whole new perspective on hot.

In Canada we have a wind chill factor and often talk about how fast exposed skin can freeze outside.  I guess we need a heat factor in Galmi.

Talked to my sister about a week ago.  We compared temperatues and overall  there was a 124 degree difference.  We are indeed marvelously made by God to endure all kinds of conditions.

Blessings to all

Friday, March 11, 2011

Niamey Trip

We just returned from a one week trip to the capital city of Niamey.  We were here to stock up on supplies and to get some furnishings for our Galmi home.  I was just outside, with a thermometer and the temperature was 45 degrees.  Really feeling the heat.

While in Niamey we made good use of the taxi's and walking.  Taxi's are interesting, you stand at the curb side and just put your hand out for one.  They will stop no matter how many people they already have.  Then you tell them where you want to go and they will say yes or no.  They also do not run a meter like in North America and they do not get tips.  Most rides for the two of us were a toal of 400 cfa or about 80 cents.  They cabs are old, worn out and for the most part not very clean but they are the prevalent vehicle on the city streets.

When we did not use a cab we often had the help of Andy from the SIM Niamey office.  He took us to the places where we could get the best buys on furnishings.  Andy is married and has a 6 month of son.  We really appreciated his assistance.  One of the places he took us to was the Handicapped Society of Niger where we were able to order a table and some chairs.  Below is a picture of a man weaving a chair.  Ours will be the same only blue and gold. 

Our first day of shopping could have been a disaster.  We were stocking up on supplies and while going through cash out realized we did not have enough cash.  Fortunately, Andy was there to rescue us.  At another instance we had a long day and were finishing up some last minute details at a store.  Grace was calling Andy to come get us, and while she was doing that I prayed that Andy would just show up so we did not have to wait.  I opeened my eyes and looked up and there he was.

We were wandering the grande marche(the largest outdoor market in Niamey), looking for a specific store, without any luck.  We asked people but just could not find the place.  As we were walking Orest prayed that God would help us find the store quickly as it was very hot and we were tired.  Immediately a young man came up to us and asked us in english if we needed help.  We told him where we wanted to go and he led us to the store right away.

One evening we were out and about on a quieter street looking for a taxi.  One stopped but would not take us where we wanted to go.  Just prior to this cab Orest again prayed that God would supply a nice cab for us to finish the day.  Right after the first cab left a young man stopped in a brand new Toyota 4X4 and asked if he could give us a ride.  He worked in tourism and thought he could help.  We were more than happy to accept his ride to our door.  All turned out well.

Does God answer prayers?

This is the main bridge in Niamey.

In the morning there is freshly washed clothing hanging over most of the guard rails, and if you look over the side there will be clothing laying across all the shrubs.  We look at it and wonder how anyone gets the right clothing back.  You can also see people in the river doing laundry - mostly men.

Here are some friends we found walking over the bridge.  They obviously were not camera shy.

Last, and certainly not least, here is our friend Andy who helped us through most of our week long stay in Niamey.