Journey to Niger, March 2014, PART TWO

It is the second full day of our journey, Monday, March 3rd, 2014.

One of the purposes of this trip was to meet the First Lady and the head of the Triple N initiative and get their support for the creation of a Training Centre for the technicians, the expansion of the FOF and their general support of the concept.

Today we made great headway on all these fronts.

First we met with our partners from the Ministry of Education. They have been in our corner for the past three years and we are very grateful to the CJPE, in the Ministry for their ongoing support.

Then we went to the headquarters of the Triple N initiative — this was set up by the President of Niger to help “Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens”, hence the “Triple N” name. It is the goal to help Nigeriens finally feed themselves and become self sufficient.  And we respect that vision as it accords with our own.  As the saying goes, the goal is not to give a man a fish, but to teach him to fish.

We met one of the senior members of this Department.  He was extremely impressed by Dov’s vision and by what has been accomplished and said we are knocking at the right door at the right time. He  feels this program perfectly fits their own agenda and they are also fully behind the creation of more technical capacity as they too see the great need.  He then joined us as we went to see the First Lady.  This clearly showed that the Triple N initiative that her husband set up, is fully behind our FOF program as well.

The first lady was an elegant, well spoken and intelligent woman. It was a really wonderful meeting.

Dov’s experience and passion came through, and his love for the people of Niger was evident. He told her and others throughout our meetings during the trip, about the remarkable transformation of the women in Sadore, who were the first ones to be part of the FOF program Dov had initiated informally in 2007.  The women there, after only two years of technical training and assistance, were left on their own and have become such successful entrepreneurs that they built 104 new homes from cement (replacing the straw homes), sent their children to Secondary school and University and are making 1.5 million cfas each per year.

The First Lady asked relevant questions, and shared with us her own objectives with the Guri Foundation which she founded.  She inquired how she could help and particularly wanted to be sure that our programs would be sustainable long after we are gone from the country. John and Dov both spoke eloquently, and near the end I also said to her, that P4K had worked in Niger for the past 8 years. In that time we started 10 kindergartens, all of which function today without any assistance from us.  We built a sewing centre and today it too functions with no outside funds, except for future infrastructure expansion.  The sewing girls each pay to join. It is fully self sustaining. 8 of our girls from the scholarship program are now in university and we do not support them any longer.  Our aim, I said was the same as hers – total sustainability.  Most of all, I said,  we seek her as a role model,  because if women and children see she endorses this concept and believe in it,  they will know that they too have reason to believe and follow her lead. I said we seek her mentorship, her guidance and her friendship and her ability to open doors for us.  Then I took out the scarf that my mother had hand – painted with a variety of colourful fruit, and told her that my mother was an artist and painted it prior to her death in October.  The scarf represented the “fruits” of our agricultural program.  She proudly put it on, and was very touched. She told me that her daughter was an artist studying abroad, but that she would love for us to meet one day. It was a heartwarming moment – and there were tears in my eyes. I could feel my mother was with me.

The First Lady was warm and enthusiastic and said our goals fit perfectly with her own objectives and she will do what she can.  Regarding the Training Centre that we were proposing she suggested we speak with the Kollo School of Agriculture as having the Centre within their school would be the most sustainable option.  We readily agreed as it was a very good idea and made arrangements to meet the Director of Kollo during the week. 

We couldn’t have anticipated a more welcoming response.

We talked with Professor Balla, from the University of Niamey Department of Agriculture about possibilities for Moringa production, an opportunity to create some businesses for women using the Moringa they were now growing.  We will follow up with him about possibilities in the near future.

 We visited with the Chef de Canton and later had dinner at the hotel with Amadaou Madougou and his family, and Madame Foumakoye, former Ambassador to Canada, and her husband.  At the end everyone made toasts and the emotion was overflowing. 

Another excellent day.


Ramatou, Robin, Fati, Aicha and Helen -- all the girls at dinner this evening!

Ramatou, Robin, Fati, Aicha and Helen — all the girls at dinner this evening!


Robin and the Chef de Canton, spiritual leader of the commune of Libore.

Robin and the Chef de Canton, spiritual leader of the commune of Libore.


Amaadou Madougou and his wife Fati with Robin.

Amaadou Madougou and his wife Fati with Robin.


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