Category Archives: News

News Stories

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.

Archive of the Republic of Niger (AREN) at Boston University

How it Evolved. By John Hutchison

The proposal to establish AREN (Archive de la République du Niger) has evolved out of the long term relationship between the Republic of Niger and the USA beginning after Niger’s independence, and the advent of the Peace Corps there. This was followed much later by the relationship, linkage, and then student exchange between the Université Abdou Moumouni (UAM) and Boston University (BU).

This latter relationship began in the 1980s, when BU Professor John Hutchison served as a Fulbright Lecturer in Linguistics and Kanuri Language Studies at the UAM during 1984-85. At the end of that year, he and the BU African Studies Center, with the assistance of Dr. Jennifer Yanco, a Nigerienist linguist and former Niger Peace Corps Volunteer, applied for and gained a 3-year USIS University Linkage Grant (1985-88) for the exchange of faculty members between BU and UAM. This exchange was rooted in the areas of languages, bilingual education, linguistics, and education. It linked faculties of education/pedagogy and departments of languages and linguistics.

Prof. Karen Boatman was one of the BU School of Education professors who visited Niger. She had the foresight and vision to recognize the importance of proposing student exchange and study abroad between BU and UAM. This next stage in our collaboration resulted in the Niger study abroad program which came to be directed by Susan Rosenfeld. It made it possible for BU students to spend a semester or more in Niger working in internships, coursework and the study of Nigerien languages and cultures in an international development context. The program endured for a quarter of a century, from 1987 until 2011.

The long-term relationships that grew out of these collaborative activities and programs have had an enormous impact on the lives and careers of the Americans and the Nigeriens who participated in them. Those who served as Peace Corps volunteers over its nearly 50 years in Niger, as well as the many BU students who did their study abroad there, have benefited from the wisdom of their co-workers, professors, colleagues and friends in Niger. The result is a body of human resources capable of facilitating change in a wide range of mutually beneficial ways. So today when we come together to join our two countries, our institutions, and one another, in this project of establishing AREN at Boston University, we are establishing a forum which brings together many stakeholders, and also which has the potential to facilitate collaborative efforts and the sharing of knowledge. From both sides of the Atlantic, AREN will make it possible to connect for example both Nigerien non-profit organizations and American non-profit organizations, and it will be conducive to collaboration in fundraising and project development that can be mutually beneficial.

This Archive was inaugurated by the Nigerien President in April 2015; photographs from that inauguration event can be viewed here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/123460528@N03/sets/72157651729968556/

Check out that portion available online at: http://www.bu.edu/library/african-studies/aren/.  A link is available on that page to a form you can fill out if you are interested in contributing to the archive.   If you have any questions, please contact Beth Restrick, African Studies Librarian (brestric “at” bu.edu).  Consider looking at the larger African Studies collection at: http://www.bu.edu/library/african-studies/

Support For Relief Efforts In Eastern Niger With Kirker Foundation Of Niger, May 2019

Submitted by Phyllis Dichter Forbes.

In February, FON approved a project with the Kirker Foundation of Niger (KF/N) for $4,000 to help them deliver critically needed medicines and medical supplies, strengthen KF/N advocacy for health services in Niger, and increase local government inputs to promote long-term sustainability of KF/N efforts. These funds will help with the internal Niger costs of clearing the first MAP International shipment of medicines of 2019, over $20 million of medications including antibiotics, eyeglasses and accessories, vitamins as well as medicine for cancer and heart disease, and delivering the medicines to approximately 12 hospitals in Niger. It is due to arrive in Niamey in early May. Just to provide some context, two MAP shipments of medicines in 2018 provided one third of all medications used by the hospitals in Niger.

While we are supporting KF/N in this first MAP shipment through the FON grant, a number of former Niger PCV’s have been helping finance other shipments in earlier years. KAMRA, the US organization that arranges for US donors for the shipments, has been very proud of the RPCV response and wanted us to let everyone know that for each $100 donated, $280,000 in medicines will be made available to the people of Niger this year, a very impressive value for our contribution.

There is a lot of good news coming from the impressive work of the Kirker Foundation, but there is unfortunately still bad news. The good news is that KF/N is helping the local hospital and school in Maine organize kitchens that will serve one meal a day to hospital patients and one meal a day to school children using fortified rice-soy meal packets provided by Rise Against Hunger(RAH), another US organization that works in the poorest and most needy countries. The first two kitchens will have enough packets to provide one meal a day to 400 Nigeriens for up to six months. Once these kitchens are fully running, RAH hopes to expand shipments to set up other kitchens in the hospitals and schools in the Diffa Department and later elsewhere in Niger.

But equally impressive is the work KF/N and KAMRA have done to address health needs of Nigerien women by supporting a shipment of medical equipment and supplies from MedShare to equip a new operating room at the Maternity Hospital in Niamey. When the new OR is set up, Conscience International, a US NGO,very impressed by the seriousness of KF/N and the Ministry of Health, will be sending a team of surgeons to Niamey to train Nigerien providers from hospitals throughout Niger in fistula repair. Fistula is a devastating condition frequently experienced by Nigerien women as a result of early and frequent childbearing and a contributor to the high maternal morbidity and mortality rates in Niger.

The FON grant was also aimed at strengthening KF/N advocacy for health services and increasing local government inputs. KF/N has done well on meeting both objectives. In 2018, the Governor of Tillabery contributed funding to transport medicines from a shipment from Niamey to Tillabery. Transport costs were valued at US $1,000. KF/N is seeking similar local cost-sharing for the currently approved shipment, again from the Governor of Tillabery, as well as from other hospitals throughout Niger where shipments will be targeted.

The bad news is that no single week goes by without Boko Haram attacks in Niger, with more than 80 Nigeriens killed in the Diffa region in March alone. Just last week, Boko Haram attacked the village of Tam, only 10 miles from Maine-Soroa, decapitating the village chief and taking several hostages. Doctors Without Border office in Maine was burned to the ground on

April 27, 2019 and we are unsure how many casualties were involved. The situation in the Tillaberi area is also deteriorating.

The resilience of Nigeriens is amazing, and as disheartening as it is for all of us to see the reports of the continuing problems confronting this poor nation, we cannot give up on them. We should all take pride in the leadership that some Nigeriens are showing in the face of overwhelming odds, and to the extent that we can, we need to continue to find ways to support them.

Doctors Without Borders Office burned in Maine Soroa, April 27, 2019

Rail line may be coming to Maradi

A proposed rail line from Kano, Nigeria, to Maradi, Niger, is planned to cover 248 kilometers.

From the article:

The rail line, which will start from Kano, is to pass through Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, Jibia and terminate in Maradi, Niger Republic.

It will connect at least three states in the North, which are Jigawa, Kano and Katsina.

It was also learnt that the rail line, when completed, would assist in the supply of crude oil from Niger Republic to the refinery being built in the border town between both countries.

Details are still being worked out, but it sounds like a very positive development for the region.

Read the full details here:

Kano to Niger Republic rail line to cover 248km

Team Niger Competing in “FIRST GLOBAL CHALLENGE 2017”

The International Robot Olympics is in less than one week!  Never before have the world’s many nations come together for a competition of this nature, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to take part in history.

A team from Niger is competing, and nothing would be more meaningful to them than support from their brothers and sisters abroad. A loud chorus of cheers from the community would make their trip to America all the more worth it, and we hope you can help us provide that for them.

The world’s future leaders, in the future’s greatest industry, are coming to Constitution Hall (1776 D St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20006) from July 16-18 to test their mettle against each other in the next great mental sport. They have worked hard to get here, some of them adjusting their designs under cover of darkness because the rain was too strong that day and the power cut out, some of them working from their homes because the only road in their village flooded and they couldn’t get to school. They have learned a lot on their way here, and they are ready to share their experience with the world.

Bring the family, make signs, and above all be ready to cheer for your team of choice! Our opening ceremony is from 5:30 to 7:00 the night of July 16. Prior to that, from 4:00-5:00, the teams will be available for a meet and greet with the community, and all are welcome to speak with any teams you wish to meet.

This event is a unique blend of science and culture, and we are happy to share it with the D.C. community. Day-of arrivals are welcome, but be sure to RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/426907000980500/

You can also find a list of participating countries on our website at:http://first.global/fgc/attending/

Team Niger: Team mentor Moumouni Mounkaila Souley, Rafiqua, Abdoul-Aziz, and Aida Ibrahima Abdou

Team Niger