Sunday, September 27, 2009

Games Day

Recently the student council at Sahel Academy sponsored an afternoon of fun and games for the whole school. After school, most kids stuck around and parents arrived to cheer on their students as they participated in various games. The secondary students divided into four teams and played kickball. The 3-6th graders, again in four teams, played soccer on the basketball court. It was hot in the sun, but they didn't seem to mind. Heidi even enjoyed herself. It is fun to see her more willing to participate in sports. (This the 1st grader who said, "I don't want to play soccer, you get sweaty!") The k-2nd played assorted games (Four corners, What time is it Mr. Wolf?)on the grassy area between the buildings. It was great hanging out with friends and taking time to play together. Much fun was had by all as you can see from the pictures. They slept well that night!

Resourcefulness in the Rain

One of the things I have come to love about Africans is their resourcefulness. Currently I have a beautiful purse, much commented on, made out of a plastic mat. A friend of mine has a computer bag beautifully crafted entirely out of plastic ice cream bags sewn together and, I must mention, it is lined- with recycled water bags! I can’t wait to buy one! In Niger, I have seen items I would have thrown away recycled and reused in unimaginable ways! Large milk powder cans store books where termites can’t intrude. No vehicle, no problem! Mattresses can be carried on a bicycle, as can your goat, or even your family of three. Plastic bags turn into many, many things: woven into a wallet perhaps, or serving as the ever present patch for any pipe that is leaking. This trait is never more obvious to me than in rainy season.
Niger rains are not usually a slow, steady drizzle or an overcast day with heavy mists now and again. The rains here come with a vengeance. It pours cats and dogs (or would raining camels and goats perhaps be a more fitting phrase?). Everything becomes drenched in minutes. Streets flood up to your knees, (drainage is largely disregarded due to the complete lack of need for it 8-9 months of the year). It is largely understood that if rain comes, all appointments are off. Someone is not expected to come to work until after the rain has passed. But what are you to do if you are caught in it? In particular, what is a man on a moped to do? (Mopeds and bicycles being the most common form of transportation.) I’ve seen lots of men on motos recently with suit pant legs rolled up, or better yet, dress shoe enclosed feet on top of the body of the motorcycle and plastic bags tied on their heads… The goats tied on top of a van become common place, but whenever it rains, I remember … creativity and resourcefulness know no bounds!! Viva the plastic bag! :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

F is for FROG

It is official, my son has fallen in love with amphibians! The past months have seen him FREQUENTLY searching them out after the evening church service to joyfully thrust into people's faces. I think he enjoys the screams as much as the frogs! If the screaming person is close to his size, he also enjoys chasing the screamer with the frog. A week or so ago, I noted he was giving his younger cousin, Silas, frog exposure time, showing him the best way to hold and pet a frog. Perhaps due to the recent rains, all the baby frogs appeared this week at Sahel. We are talking hundreds and hundreds of them! They are no bigger than my thumb (see Tom holding one up above)and seem to hop out of every clump of grass by the handfuls. Handfuls is NOT a random word choice either! The kindergarten boys (and others) have spent all their spare outdoor time this week collecting them, primarily in their hands, but also in cups and back packs and any other available container. Despite lectures that live frogs were not allowed in my truck (that was directed at my niece, Kira, who promptly zipped them in her lunch bag. "See Aunt Beka, they won't get out!")and that the neighbors' hungry cat would shorten the life of any small moving creature in our yard, Tom snuck one home in his aunt's car after school today. Luckily, I had a tip off, or that frog would be roaming the house uninhibitedly (is that a word?)this evening. As it was, when I received the timely tip (THANKS KRISTA!!!)mr. frog was still under the basket where he was initially hidden in Tom's room and was forthwith escorted outside to befriend the bunny. Tom and his backyard buddy, Joe spent the afternoon "playing" with the new "pet." Unfortunately, the frog couldn't stand all the love and died just before dinner time. Frogs ON his backpack, frogs IN his backpack. Paper frogs and plastic frogs. They are all the rage in our house this week for one 5 year old boy!