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.)

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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.

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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 nikki.gray@sim.org  or reply to this post!

 

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