Snapshot: Shelter (Part two)

(If you haven’t already read my previous post about our own home here, then click here to see the pictures.)


Just like in the USA, there are many types of shelter here in Niamey. This is the country’s capital city with more than one million people, the rich and the poor often living side by side. It is not unusual to see a very large multi-level house with beautiful gates and double rows of barbed wire atop the surrounding walls, located next door to a dirt lot with several round mud-brick houses with grass roofs.

Last week I asked a good friend of mine to take some photos of her neighborhood, which is not far from where I live. I think this is a very good example of how the majority of people live here, so I believe it gives you the best possible glimpse of normal life for a Nigérienne family. Some have more, many have less, but this is what you will find nearly everywhere you go throughout this city.


The walls are made of “mud-brick”, and the roof is usually a tin roof, or sometimes it will be large grass bundles or mats. Some walls might be made of cement bricks, which are more resilient to rain and water damage.


Do you notice any windows in these buildings? No… that is because it is a pretty big deal to have actual windows (not with glass, mind you), because it requires metal casings and some sort of metal enclosure.



People are very creative with adding on outdoor living and work spaces!



In this house you can see the window! Instead of glass, there are metal shutters. 


The large yellow plastic containers are used for carrying water. Since these homes do not have running water, the neighborhood shares a nearby water spout or sometimes water from a well.



This woman is washing something – maybe her dishes or clothes. I liken it to camping – there is always a little dirt mixed in!


6b80ba25-4c29-49c4-ab1d-ffdcbfc3bfac (1)

My friend is a seamstress so here is her machine. These butterfly sewing machines are great because they can run by electricity or simply by pumping the petal.


Speaking of electricity, the community does not automatically have electricity wired to their home. Someone who lives there will manage it and everyone will pitch in. My friend, in particular, was having trouble with this process so they saved and purchased a small solar panel to charge their phones and have a fan and lights.



This woman is washing something – maybe it is moringa? Moringa, the new “superfood” grows all over the place here in Niger and is a very popular food.


You might be thinking that this photo is taken in a village or in the countryside, but this is truly part of the capital city. This is just minutes away from the bustling city center!

Some people might wonder why our family doesn’t live like this too? It would certainly be more cost effective! After living here for a number of years now, I can assure you that our family would not do well at all living this way. Honestly, we aren’t rugged enough to endure the heat and sickness we would face day in and day out. Some missionaries who live in the desert bush have more primitive dwellings like this, because there are no other options. For our family and the other missionaries with our mission who live in the city, we have learned that local people would find it to be somewhat bizarre if we lived exactly like them. They would wonder why? Of course, we keep things simple and practical and never want to flaunt our way of life as if it is “better”. It is simply the only way for us to survive and serve here.

Well, that is truly just a snapshot – because there is so much more to see! Is there anything that surprises you about this way of living or this type of shelter? Do you have any questions? Please email me  or reply to this post!


Snapshot: Shelter (Part One)

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is “what is your house like?”, or something to this effect. Do we have electricity? Do we have plumbing? What is the roof or what are the walls made out of? You get the idea. For this reason, I thought it would be interesting to share with you about our home, as well as the homes of our local friends around here. I’ll share some photos – and NO, I did not clean my house, so welcome to our real world!


I finally added some family photos to our living room area! (It only took me about two years to do it.) Hanging things on these cement walls is challenging! It takes a serious drill and special supplies, so some walls remain rather empty.


Here are the basics:  Cement walls and tile floors. Tin roof and wood ceilings. Metal doors and windows, with metal mesh netting throughout. Gas oven and stovetop. Fridge and freezer.

Plumbing? yes

Electricity? yes

Actual toilets – with somewhere to sit? yes

Dishwasher? no

Clothes washer? yes

Clothes dryer? no

So you can see, it is rather civilised. (You can throw away your sympathy now!)

When you drive up to our house, this is what you see: the hangar (carport thing) on the left and the house behind. We are blessed to have shade trees all around the house!


Our porch is very big, though it is not enclosed with netting so it always has tons of flies and mosquitos. We hope to have it enclosed this year so we can use it more often.


Next door is the men’s dormitory for the Bible school – many of the residents are actually students at the Niamey University.


Behind our house is the laundry line – a.k.a. “the clothes dryer” – and you can see our one hot water heater and an air conditioner unit on this side of the house.


AIR CONDITIONING: Since I just mentioned this all-important feature, I feel I should explain. We have individual AC units in each bedroom and one in the living room. Of course you know that it is very hot here in Niger! We use these AC’s at night, and often in the evening we will use the living room one. We would probably use them all the time except that electricity costs are out of this world here. So, we pick and choose the most needy times and enjoy the cool air thoroughly. 🙂


This is where we burn our garbage (on the left) or dispose of compost (on the right). It is located about 10 yards to the side of our house and is shared by one other missionary family.


Now let’s move inside…. 

That is our front door and when you enter the house, you are in the dining room. (“Open concept” – ha ha!)


There is our cute little kitchen. (The oven is on the other side of the fridge.)



Living room – we bought nearly all of our furniture from departing missionaries. Even the rug! It is an indoor/outdoor rug that works well for a cat-claw sharpener. Hi Shadow. 🙂



Here is the kitchen sick – even with our dish water! (I told you I didn’t clean up). Right outside this kitchen window is our water filter and barrel… I’ll add a photo so you know what I am talking about.


Here is where we keep a store of filtered water, just in case there is a water cut in the city. (Gotta love that random cord just hanging there…I have no idea what that is for? Welcome to Niger.)


Hallway… (yes I chose the wall color). Lots of sunshine in my house! The back of the house has three bedrooms and one bath.


I wonder whose bedroom this is? Take a guess!


Here is the bathroom that all five of us share. (Okay, so maybe you can have a little bit of sympathy for us!)


So that pretty much gives you a good snapshot of our home. Thank you for enduring the amateur photography, though I hope it satisfied any curiosity you might have had. I will be adding a “part two” with some other types of dwelling here in Niger, so stay tuned!

Now I’m curious – what was the biggest surprise you noticed about our home here? Reply or mail me at