Monday, July 25, 2005

Last December I visited Niger, where my sister and brother in law were Peace Corps Volunteers. Yes, the same Niger that is starving.

The people of Niger are unquestionably the most generous I have ever met. In my sister's village, Sabon Gida, THEY brought US more food than we could eat, every night. This is no hyperbole, we stuffed ourselves and could eat no more, and they kept bringing us food. (Maradi, where the BBC story was bylined, is about 120 miles east of Sabon Gida.) I am now faced with the immensely terrible thought that the people who brought us food are now starving themselves.

Niger is not the sort of country where the people starve while the president buys new fighter planes and has a villa in the south of France. Right before we got there they had a peaceful and fair election. The President seems to be a honest man who has improved things in the country. The only sin of the Nigeriens is to be born in a land with too many people, not enough rain, and no real exports except uranium and onions--and I bet there aren't even any onions this year.

If you've been thinking about this at all, I urge you to make a donation.

My sister and my brother in law recommend CARE ( and Catholic Relief Services ( I encountered people from both organizations and neither one is spending money on upkeep of their buildings or lavish salaries of their staff.

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