You might notice that I switched it up a little bit this week. Instead of doing a person of significance, I’m going to take a while ride back to the place of my childhood: Niger.
I could quote some Wikipedia facts about Niger and call it a day.
- predominantly Muslim
- lowest ranked country in the United Nations Human Development Index (meaning it’s the poorest country in the world in education, environment, health care and even women’s rights).
- hot and dry, over 80% is Sahara dessert
Basically, it’s a hot, dry, poor country located exactly in the middle of nowhere that appears to be in no way attractive.
And yet I call this place home.
Because what Wikipedia didn’t mention is what I know about the country.
It’s hot and dry and dusty and poor, but it’s so much more.
It’s people who greet each other on the street and strike up a conversation, even if they did have somewhere to go.
It’s people who are resourceful and creative, making the most out of what they have been giving.
It’s a shoes-off-at-the-door, respect-your-elders, serve-your-best-meal, and help-your-neighbors kind of culture.
It’s simplicity and being laid-back and people first, over anything.
It’s the many languages that roll of the tongues of the people, often switching from one language to another before our ears have even caught up.
It’s a strikingly bleak landscape that breathes harsh beauty.
It’s a bright blue sky dotted with one tiny cloud that rises up into a huge, glorious rainstorm.
It’s the smells of cooking fires and market spices and nem leaves.
It’s the people who helped raise me, taught me the language and treated me as one of their own…
It’s Sahel Academy and the place that I lived and schooled and learned how to handle the ups and downs of relationships and the foundation of my spiritual life.
It’s churches that know what it may mean to chose to follow Christ, and yet they do it anyways.
It’s home. And it’s beautiful.
Niger, tu me manques!