FINAL DAY of our trip: Day Six, Sunday, February 7th, 2010

This was truly the first relaxing day since we arrived in Niger. We had completed all that we had set out to do and it was time to reflect and spend time with friends on our final day. Ramatou and her mom, Fatimata, or Fati (the Mayor’s wife), joined us at the hotel for two hours. What lovely, elegant and intelligent women. We had a great time outside on the terrace and I wore the dress that Ramatou had designed and made for me last year…….. Next year she is thinking of making me one in turquoise.. She works at UNICEF, but she should definitely consider opening her own Boutique and designing clothing.

The Mayor had nicknamed me Zankey-gna, so Fati nicknamed Ed, Zankey-baba, …. The Mayor came up with the name because one of the women in the village of Guireguindi yelled out Zankey-gna when we were initiating the Farmers of the Future program there..

Afterwards we said goodbye and while Ed was mounting a camel in the front yard of the hotel, I bought some small gifts for people at home at the hotel gift shop. We saw one of the ORBIS staff as he was headed out for his two hour jaunt by camel around the city…..later told us he had a great time..

Then Gaston and his wife Lilliane picked us up for lunch. We went to a beautiful restaurant just outside Niamey where their son works. It was so lovely and the meal was great. Lillian is a nurse and is so nice and warm and smart. It was terrific to finally put a face to the name I had heard for so long. There is nothing that compares to meeting people in person. No email or twitter or phone call will ever replace looking directly into someone’s eyes and sharing a hug. We had a great time and I think we both relaxed for the first time since we arrived. There was no more pressure to get things done. Gaston and Lillian and Ed and I had an afternoon to remember.

After we returned to the hotel, Hamani brought us the 14 groups of letters and scrapbooks for the pen pals back home. Then the Mayor personally arrived to take us to the Airport at 5pm for pre-registration. He is an incredibly humble man with tremendous integrity.

When we returned to the hotel we heard that there was a Tuareg wedding happening nearby. Hamani said he could take us there. In a Tuareg wedding, the groom has his turban wrapped for 45 minutes or so…….and that’s all it takes for him to be married even thought the bride is not there yet…… We missed the wrapping part but we took pictures with the Groom and his friends and gave him a Canadian pin….

At night, around 9:30pm, the Chef de Canton arrived to say goodbye. He is one of the wisest people I know with such a kind heart.

Then Yakouba, the Director from the Mutuelle bank in Liboré, arrived and gave me the most beautiful letter about how P4K is their largest client at the bank and what a difference we have made in Liboré. They gave to me a fabulous leather rug which can also be a wall hanging and perhaps one day if we have our own P4K office we can hang it there.

Hamani and the Vice Mayor also arrived and off we went to the airport to leave Niger. At the lounge in the airport, Hamani, the Vice Mayor, Fatouma, the Mayor and Ed and I talked about the Mayor’s dream to have an eye hospital in Liboré……The Mayor is convinced it will be built one day, and is looking for partners to help with equipment. Another seed planted.

And then it was time to be driven to the waiting airplane. I said a teary goodbye to them all, with an extra hug or two for the Mayor and with Ed at my side walked through the security and onto the bus. As we boarded the plane all we could both do was look at each other and say “thank you” to all the powers that looked after us along the way and made it the trip of a lifetime.

It was time to go home.

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