Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday marketing and musing...

The usual higgledy-piggledy African can find the most amazing things!
Many people use the weekend to do their shopping in Niger which is pretty much the same as in North America. Here in Niamey though, regardless of the day or the time of the is a good time to shop. Everywhere there are little roadside kiosks that sell everything from fruits, meat, clothes, toys and yes...even kitchen sinks. About a quarter of a mile down the road from the hospital there is a little collection of kiosks and a 'supermarket' for basic needs. There is even a kiosk which has a rotisserie for chickens. The expats call these chickens bicycle chickens because they only have the frame :) Yes, you get a little meat with mostly bones.
Kiosks are not the only thing one finds on the side of the road. There are many handicapped people. It is really so vary sad that there are so many people with disabilities including deformities of limbs, blindness, burn contractures and many birth defects. On my way to the market, before we even left the hospital property there were dozens of children and adults who had come for a consultation. Many had cleft palates, lips or both. Some were requiring revision of scars from burns or other deformities requiring surgical intervention. It would be totally depressing if not for the hope that God gives through CURE International.  
My friend Chris and I went into town to one of the very clean 'supermarkets'.  Marche Haddad is owned by someone from the middle east and their are some very familiar grocery items....if you are willing to pay for them.  A bottle of a yogurt drink one can find in the US costs $8. Pringles potato chips were about $3.50 and so on. Naturally, I wasn't looking for everything from the USA, but I wanted to buy reliable items that were safe to eat etc. When one travels like I do and as frequently as I do, it doesn't pay to buy dubious food. Who wants to get sick so far from home and loved ones?
I bought a few things to tie me over until next weekend. Essentials like TP, tissues, pasta, cheese and sauce were easily purchased inside the supermarket. When we came out with our packages, we were met by many people who were begging...most had some disability. Of course it is very heartbreaking. One does not have the resources to give to all. And I ask myself, 'Am I really helping by throwing a coin in a tin plate'?
On my first trip I discovered after-the-fact that the small coin I dropped in a sweet looking young boy's bowl was actually going to the local mosque! So I learned not to give coins to the young boys who carry around tin bowls strung around their necks with strings or ropes.
What can be done?
Who can best help these dear people who have such severe handicaps?
After my bits and pieces of shopping, a missionary family, the Maxwells scooped me up from the CURE Hospital and took me to their side of the river.  (Rive Droite) After a wonderful visit, I was taken to a most interesting marketplace. I was introduced to a man Issa who makes leather soccer (footballs) by hand. Issa showed me his handiwork and pointed to other people who were weaving chair covers etc. What made all this so interesting is that it was part of an artisans guild. The handicapped person would pay about $1 US to join the guild. The person would then become a part of something greater than their own work. This guild gave a place of industry and importance to it's members. Although we did not learn all the details of this place, Issa showed us the pictures of the members. He described the benefits that he was trying to bring to otherwise hopeless situations.
My heart was glad that someone from Niger was coordinating help that is dignified and practical for the many handicapped people in the city of Niamey.
Issa is the man with the red hat. He was showing me how he puts prepares the last piece of leather for the soccer ball. At the same time the man beside him was showing us some pictures of the other artisans.
Micah Maxwell at the dry goods market stall.

One might expect that some handicapped people would fashion lousy products but not at this market! I was so blown away by the weaving of the blind people and the strength of the hands that made the leather soccer balls.  Useful and quality items are being produced. Oh, I pray for success of these artisans! How wonderful if their poverty and plight might be alleviated by work from their own hands. How wonderful that people like the Maxwells help advertise this group of handicraft artists. Perhaps one day I will have the opportunity to go back and get a soccer ball for my grandchildren! 

A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25

1 comment:

  1. I do know a missionary who regularly provides for the Madrasa school children in very tangible ways. She has actually gotten to know the teacher who cares for these boys in her neighborhood and meets their needs as she is able. Because of her generosity--she has had great opportunities to be a witness to them of Christian love.

    Thanks so much for what you are giving to Niger!