Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sahel Academy - Before & After the Flood

Today my body is here in South Carolina but my heart is definitely in Niger.
Niger River Flooding map.jpg
This picture shows the Niger River - the dark blue being the normal path of the river and the light blue being the areas that are flooded.  You can see the little yellow arrow pointing to the campus of Sahel Academy which is now a part of that flooded region.  Incredible efforts were put forth by the staff, students and community to prepare the campus but sadly, on the evening of Tuesday, August 21, 2012 a part of the wall surrounding the campus gave out and the Niger River rushed in.
Before leaving Niger I took some pictures of the campus.  So I thought I would use those along with the many that have been taken by people in Niger just to give you a Before & After idea of what things look like now.  (After photo credits go to Steve Schmidt, Ray Chamberlain & Cathy Bliss)

We begin at the gate.
Most of the time you would follow the road from the entrance down to the left of the white wall which is the back wall of the sports court.  Today the method of transportation is canoe.
This is our sports court.

Pictured here is the dorm.  The picture on the bottom left shows the same side as the Before picture.  The picture to the right shows the front of the dorm and part of the playground area. 
This is the elementary building where I spent the last three years teaching lots of delightful little First & Second Graders.
On the top in the middle is the Before picture showing a view into the Dining Hall, High School, Library and Teacher's Lounge buildings along with our beloved patch of grass - site for almost all significant events including eating, hanging out and even graduating.  These areas seem to be under the deepest amount of water.
This is a view down the corridor between the dining hall and high school. 
Looking back toward the playground area in the picture on the left, you see two picnic tables.  In the picture on the right, you can only see the tops of those tables.
Here you see the one year old administration building.  It was just last year at this time that we were working hard to get the classrooms ready for students.
This is the only picture of the inside of a building so far.  It's the welcome area of the administration building.
These two pictures show before and after views of the area of campus where the wall broke.

Finally, heading back down the road towards the entrance is our workshop area with lots of storage containers.  The water here also looks quite deep.
One thing you may have noticed in my before pictures is that there aren't alot of pictures with people in them.  I must have gone around at a time when no one was around which is unfortunate because if there's anything that stands out about Sahel Academy, it's the people.  When I picture these grounds they are filled with staff who love and invest wholeheartedly in their students, students who are growing and learning, national workers who are faithful and a larger mission community that prays and supports us in so many practical ways.  And so, I'm going to leave you with a little video that was created to show just that!  This is Sahel Academy.
By the way, if I come to see you and share about Sahel Academy, you may have to smile and nod politely as I show this video because I am stealing my own thunder and putting it out for everyone to see. I just feel like some of us might need the encouragement of it's reminder.
(Photo credit - Ray Chamberlain)
1 Peter 2:6
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame."
We may not understand but we are trusting!
SIM has estabilished a fund to help both the mission community and our Nigerien brothers and sisters recover from this tragedy.  If you would like to help you can go here to make a donation. Thank you for praying and thank you for giving.


  1. Thanks Beth! I wanted to share some pics on my blog too, but I don't have any 'before's . . . and so for someone who's never been to Sahel, the photos don't do it justice. Mind if I put up a link to your post?

  2. Really appreciate this blog post! Sandy Rendel had posted the link on fb. I taught at Sahel for 6 months in 2002 and have been heartbroken over this latest news. So much of the campus has changed since I was there so these pictures really helped. Praying for everyone there! (Great video! LOVE the song...can you tell me the title/ who sings it? I tried to google it but had no luck.) Blessings, Melanie Penninga

    1. Hey Melanie...I passed through Niamey briefly in the summer of 2002 on my way to visit my parents in Maradi...wonder if I would have seen you. :)The song is Lift Up the Light by Shane & Shane. I heard it last year and it really struck a cord in my heart because I feel like we've been feeling God's face Shine On Us in big ways these last few years. The School has been growing and there's been a real depth to the relationships that have been built. So I picked the song in the "light" but now the "night" is upon us. However, I am confident that though things seem very dark at this moment we are living in the light of his presence and somehow He is going to use this to draw the nations (Niger & our students) to himself.

  3. This is absolutely great! Thanks for all your work putting this together. Keep praying for the kids... and new staff, especially.

    We miss you around here.

    1. Thanks, Richelle. I think it was good therapy for me. I've noticed you've turned to writing as therapy too these last couple of day...I've been reading lots on your blog! ;) Definitely praying for all of you! Kathy M. told me that you both have plans to eliminate the month of August from the calendar...(think I'm probably putting words in her mouth here) but it's been a rough couple of Augusts for you. Thankful to know that in the midst of it all we have a firm foundation to keep us from drowning!

  4. Thank you for this! My mother is the new 2nd grade teacher at Sahel. She and my dad were in country for only two weeks before this happened, so it's been a great adventure for them so far. THANK YOU all for your continued prayers for not only those serving in Niamey but for the community as a whole!!

    1. Hey Lisa,
      I got to meet your Mom here in South Carolina before she headed out. It was an encouragement to me because it seemed that she was hand picked by God for that group of kids. Her skills and passions were just what they needed! However, I am sure that this beginning was not at all what they were expecting and I have been praying for them specifically. I trust that God will encourage them and enable them to meet the challenges that lie ahead. May you also have a quiet heart...I am sure it's not easy to be this far away from them at a time like this!

    2. Thank you Beth,
      Mom actually told me she meet you when they were in SC. I know this isn't really what they signed up for, but they know they signed up to go where God wants them and to do what God wanted them to i told mom in an email,I'm sure God just didn't mention the flood relief part when they were being led to serve since it may have made them question going.
      Pray for my dad, he's been having issues with his blood pressure going low. we think he is still not drinking enough and adjusting to the humidity, the heat they have in AZ, bu the humidity is very new to their bodies, and he didn't have time to get adjusted before this other stress was added.

    3. Will definitely remember your Dad as I pray. The humidity is definitely a challenge!

  5. Wow Beth - great job. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    1. Good processing, I think, Dave. Been thinking and praying for you guys too. I know your hearts must be hurting!

  6. Beth you did an excellent job finding the before pics to go with the after pics... I really appreciate all the work you did. I will be sending people to this post, if I can figure out how!!

    1. Copy & paste or just go to my facebook page and scroll down a bit to the post and then click share and it should work for you. :)

  7. Karen (Vreugdenhil) CurrieAugust 29, 2012 at 9:06:00 AM PDT

    Hi Beth,

    I saw your link on one of the Rendel's emails-- thanks for all of the pics. I volunteered at Sahel for a few months in 2003; it's heart-breaking to see the damage. I can't imagine how difficult this is for the staff and students. I'll be praying that God will transform this disaster into something amazing and that His strength will be with the SIM community as they work with the many displaced people.

    1. Karen,
      Thank you for your prayers. I want you to know that though you may have only been at Sahel for a few months, your visit left an indelible mark. Anisa refers often to the guidance and direction you gave during the curriculum development process. I think it's safe to say that the accreditation process went so much smoother because of the jumpstart you gave us. Thank you for investing in us and thank you for your prayers now for we are surely in need of them. I look forward to the day we see beauty brought from the ruins!


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