Today my body is here in South Carolina but my heart is definitely in Niger.
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.