Category Archives: Features

Features

Sue Rosenfeld In Memoriam

Friends of Niger acknowledges the passing of our colleague and friend to so many, Sue Rosenfeld, who spent many years in Niger. We are sharing this brief obituary from her brother Josh below and we invite you to share your thoughts using the comment function on this page.

Sue Rosenfeld, 72, a New Jersey native who spent the majority of her life as an educator in Africa, passed away on October 10 in her home town of Niamey, Niger, after a lengthy illness. A native of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and the daughter of two teachers, her international adventures began when she spent a year abroad studying in Perugia, Italy while attending Dickinson College, where she graduated in 1970 and majored in Classical Studies.

She left for Africa in 1977/8 to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Joal, Senegal, and would live in Africa for the rest of her life. After years in Senegal Sue was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and moved to Bujumbura, Burundi, where she would remain until she moved to Niamey. She taught English at the American Cultural Center and served as the coordinator for Boston University’s foreign study program in Niamey until the program was terminated in 2010. She remained there as a teacher and educator until her death.

One of her students in Niamey was Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). “Our program director, Sue Rosenfeld, once told us that students who apply to the Niger program are ‘self-selected’”, Ocasio-Cortez said in a March, 2010 article in Boston University’s Daily Free Press. “In other words, young students who make the commitment to spending four months in the Sahel of West Africa tend to have a thirst for adventure that is not easily quieted by concern.”

In addition to her roles with the Peace Corps and Boston University, she spent much of her life teaching English as a second language (TESOL).

A serial correspondent, she communicated on a regular basis with hundreds of friends, colleagues, students and family around rather globe, many of whom commented on her ability to bring diverse and unlikely groups of people together. She is best-remembered for her willingness to mentor and aid others, including assisting several African students to attend college in the United States.

She is survived by her brother, Josh, who remains in Elizabeth, and her long-time companion Ahmadou Mbaye of Dakar, Senegal. She is the cousin of author Judy Blume and also survived by her dogs, and Bebe, a chimpanzee she cared for in Niamey.

Her body will remain in Niamey, while her soul remains in all who knew her. 

The outpouring of memories about Sue and the impact she has had will be recorded below.  It is worthy to note that Sue was a member of the Friends of Niger Board beginning in 2006 as the Niger Liaison.  In that capacity for many years Sue helped guide the activities and investments which FON made in Niger.  One of the traditions that Sue began was to provide the National Hospital Pediatric ward with chewable vitamins that had been hand-carried over to Niger by FON members and other travelers. 

EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE NEEDED IN AREAS IMPACTED BY FLOODING IN NIGER

Friends of Niger,

Heavy rains, extreme flooding starting in August, and the collapse of the dam near Niamey have led to severe property destruction, displacement, malnutrition and now the spread of malaria in many parts of Niger.  As of September 15th, 71 people have died due to drowning or injury, and over 350,000 have had to leave their homes.  The most severely impacted regions include Dosso-Tillabery, Niamey, Tahoua, Maradi, Zinder, and Agadez. 

Friends of Niger has reviewed proposals from 6 reliable non-governmental organization partners to support their relief work.  In view of the urgency of the situation, FON plans to send at least $1,000 to each of these NGOs.  With your extra help we could send more to each group to be used to address urgent needs such as: impregnated mosquito nets, emergency food, and medical aid.  How many mosquito nets and supplies can we send? Can you help?

Friends of Niger focuses its energy and resources on sustainable development activities, but also recognizes the importance of responding to emergencies such as the current one.  Please give generously now to support this work! The online donations page is at http://www.friendsofniger.org/donate/donate-via-paypal, or you may mail a check payable to Friends of Niger, PO Box 452, Haverford, PA  19041. 

We are fortunate to have some Board Members with strong connections to some of the most flood-affected areas, in Niamey, Maradi, and Agadez.  They have agreed to act as Project Monitors with partner NGOs.

  • Association pour le Développement de l’Éducation et la Sauvegarde de la Santé (ADESS), in Mont Bagzam, a remote rural community in the Agadez Region. 
  • CONUSA (Conseil des Nigériens aux USA), of which Seybou is president, and Yari is a former officer.  CONUSA has already independently raised over $14,000 towards their flood relief efforts in Niamey. 
  • Cadres et Étudiants du Niger (CEN), working in Niamey. 
  • Alliance des Jeunes pour un Développement Endogène (AJDE), a medical team in the University district of Niamey working in coordination with a Nurse Volunteers team.   
  • Association HIMMA, which FON has previously supported in ongoing Cholera prevention and microfinance (grants) programs in Tibiri and Gabi in Maradi Region. 
  • Organisation Vie et Développement-Tedhilt, in the Agadez region. 

With your help, FON can send more funds to address urgent needs, without taking away from our support of projects that build Niger’s capacity in a long-term way.  Possibly we can send a second distribution to our partners in a few weeks. We will also work with them to support preparedness for the future, as such floods become more common every year.

Thank you very much for responding to this emergency,

John Baird, President
Friends of Niger

Flood response donations welcomed by Friends of Niger.

Friends of Niger is currently reviewing several requests from organizations for flood assistance and we hope to provide some support through them to those in need soon.

The Nigerien expatriate group CONUSA has already raised over $2,000.

To donate now, you can either go to http://www.friendsofniger.org/donate/donate-via-paypal/ to use PayPal, or write a check payable to Friends of Niger and mail to: Friends of Niger PO Box 452 Haverford, PA 19041.

Thank you for lending a hand at a critical time. Fonda goy and Merci.

FLOODING update as of Sept. 7, 2020

Three months of pounding rain in Niger have left 65 people dead and affected nearly 330,000, while several areas of the capital Niamey remain underwater.

The ministry of humanitarian action and disaster reported that as of September 7, 51 people had died when their home collapsed in the floods, and 14 had drowned.

The worst-affected regions are Maradi in the central south of the country, Tahoua and Tillaberi in the west, and Dosso in the southwest.

At least 10 of the deaths were in the capital Niamey, where the rain caused the Niger river to breach its banks, municipal authorities said.

Flooding last year claimed 57 lives and affected 226,000 people nationwide.

“Road Trip Niger” Film Premier to Benefit the NOMAD Foundation

Road Trip Niger

Sunday, February 5, 2:00pm, at the Ojai Valley Community Church, 907 El Centro St., Ojai, California.

Born to Play Productions presents a film about the adventures of the filmmakers in a country as far from home as imaginable, to discover the nomadic tribes of Niger, the vast, unforgiving and breathtaking Sahara desert, and the work of the Nomad Foundation.

Film, music, appetizers, no host bar & silent auction to benefit the Nomad Foundation.

Special Tuareg guests from Niger:  
Boucha Mohamed, Nigers minister of livestock & Sidi Mamane, Niger rep of the Nomad Foundation, & mayor of Ingall

And a live sampler of music from the film singer/songwriter, Ned Clark and guitarist, Bob Wright.

Get your tickets here: http://roadtripniger.brownpapertickets.com

Web site: http://www.roadtripniger.com

Fallen Volunteers

Memorial Day is about remembering those who have sacrificed their lives in service of this country. Let’s not forget that there is another kind of service for our country, and take a moment to remember the nearly 300 Peace Corps Volunteers who lost their lives during their time abroad: the Fallen Peace Corps Volunteers.

Fallen Peace Corps Volunteers is a web site dedicated to these volunteers, with the ultimate goal of  honoring their memory with a memorial in Washington, DC. Take a moment to read about these individuals who gave it all:

http://fpcv.org

We honor both these fallen volunteers, as well as the members of the armed services who gave their lives. I like to think they all had a common goal for the world: peace.

Mark Wentling, Former Niger PC Staffer Releases Second Book In Trilogy

Former PC Niger staffer (and Togo RPCV) Mark Wentling has just released the second book in his African Trilogy.

Published by Peace Corps Writers, Africa’s Release is available at Amazon.com. It will be made available as a Kindle e-book in the coming weeks. 

From Amazon:

Journey to another time and place in Mark Wentling’s magical new novel, Africa’s Release.

The residents of Gemini, Kansas, have grown used to the odd man who goes by the name of JB and roams their neighborhood in a befuddled state. But when he abruptly disappears one night, the townspeople find themselves facing uncomfortable questions, as JB’s life and the dark discoveries in his ramshackle home are made public.

Little do they know that JB’s ramblings have all been for a purpose: to transport him back to the African village he left many years before. Now he has returned to the old baobab tree that had years ago swallowed him up—an event that elevated him to the level of demigod in the eyes of the remaining villagers.

This sequel to the popular Africa’s Embrace, and the second book in Wentling’s trilogy, is sure to enchant readers once more.

Skeletons of the Sahara: National Geographic

PBS is currently airing an intriguing new documentary about one of the largest prehistoric human burial grounds found in the Sahara. As with many of these discoveries, this one is located in the remote deserts of Niger.

From the show:

Over 10 years and five expeditions, Sereno has found more than 200 burial plots, each more intriguing than the last: a man buried with his head in a pot; another buried sitting in a turtle shell; a girl with a bracelet carved from hippo bone; and most striking of all, a woman embracing two children, hands entwined in a triple burial.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the bones are from two separate civilizations, Kiffian and Tenerian, thousands of years apart, yet the dead are buried side by side. Scattered throughout the site, artifacts offer clues to the lives they led – arrowheads, intricate jewelry and, perhaps most surprising of all, harpoons carved from bone.

Who were the Kiffians and Tenerians? How did they live? How did they die?

Watch the full National Geographic special here on PBS (in high definition no less).

Full URL: http://www.pbs.org/program/skeletons-sahara/