Niger Travel Stories, Page 6

Trip to Tanout Niger

Trip to Tanout Niger
Zinder Niger West Africa
Sunday, October 8, 2006

I will travel today from Zinder to Tonout, Niger in some type of jeep truck to visit the Eden Foundation.

This is a multi-generational family operation, I do not know the detail, but as best I can surmise, Josef is the son of his Father and Mother that came form Sweden and founded this project. Josef and his Dutch wife have lived for something like six years in Niger and I think Josef has lived over 20 years of his life in Zinder or Niger.

Map of my trip, the blue is the route I traveled from Natitingou, Benin to Zinder, Niger very fast. I will today in comfort drive from Zinder to Tanout in Josef’s truck, and see his project for growing foods needed in Niger.

His business card of sorts above, I photographed it when I was in Lome, Togo and Stellen the bike rider from Sweden explained about the project, and told me to go visit if I came this direction.

Stellan has traveled to around 10 countries or more in Africa by riding his bike. Africa Bike Trip

I am excited to be invited to go and see his project, because it is the only project I know or can see in Niger that is working on a solution to malnutrition and not just collecting money from donations and squandering it on ridiculous projects. The three organizations that maybe I would say are in the business of saving dying children do very little, other than to make the problem larger by saving children for the next year to have the same problem.

1. Medecins Sans Frontieres
2. Red Cross
3. Red Crescent

Medecins Sans Frontieres - or
- Doctors without Borders - in English

I talked with a many from the Geneva Switzerland branch, I guess there is many different countries, and each may have their own MSF service, last time when I was in Zinder there were five separate countries with five separate operations all operating separately.

This to me, and I am proud of Bill Gates, he is making this an essential aspect of money he gives to NGO operations in Africa, they must share the information.

I do not believe a person is working for the good of the world, save the children, save the whale, hug a tree, when they work independently and do not share actively, proactively all the problems they find and all the solutions they can muster. If this works, then it needs to be broadcast to the world quickly, efficiently and transparent, with no agendas.

There are a couple levels to the malnutrition problem in Niger, the first part is intervention and saving a child that is in risk of immediate death because of malnutrition problems. A malnutrition-affected person is weakened, and then something like malaria or an infection kills the weakened person.

This is what Doctors without Borders, and the Red Cross, Red Crescent do; they provide food in feeding centers to areas of mass problems.

I am returning to Zinder with the hope of know, is the problem the same as last year. Now if it is the same, then was all the NGO here just a reaction to CNN and BBC saying there was a famine, all the NGO reacted and came, but if no news reports, do they not come.

There are very few NGO here that are in full operation and I can see working, I do not see the NGO-ONG-SUV-TOYOTAS driving around, I do see NGO vehicles being driven by probably Niger people, but the influx of non-Niger persons seems to be gone. The hotels are empty.

Ok, the idea is this, if the problem is the same as last year, then why are not the same amount of press and NGO ONG here.

I am 85 percent sure that the Press finds a real problem, magnifies the problem. Then the NGO-ONG will go to the problem, piggyback on the bad news of the problem, using this as a marketing or promotional method to raise donations. When the new disappears, so do the NGO or ONG.

What even disturbs me more is I can see that many of the major organizations advertise on BBC and CNN. Therefore, it behooves CNN and BBC to make a problem a disaster to the level where the nice people of the planet donate to the problem. Therefore making great amounts of money for both the large news companies, BBC and CNN in the form of advertising revenue form the NGO and the NGO make tons of money in the form of Donations. This is a win win situation, creating as Michael Crichton says, a State of Fear, selling the fear; make money off of advertising for the media and donations for the NGO.

I am working slowly and diligently on the problems and solutions of Malnutrition.

I have an ORG., the org stands for in many ways my totally not to be trusted word called.
- Organization. -

This is the sad part, I am learning to not trust an organization, if they say foundation, project, or organization, I instantly think,
- You live off free money by getting them to give you money. You do not work, and do not have to report or prove you accomplished anything. -

I was going to apply for the Non-Profit Status in the USA, but stopped or delayed the filing as I think I know how to fund the organization, other than to have or me, full pay for almost all the cost, as of now, it is about 99.9 percent me, I have received a long time ago some moneys towards good will type project, maybe about 50 U.S. Dollars.

I am working on an online accounting system for this organization where in real time a person could contribute and see the change of pro forma cash flow. I am not collecting money and as of today, do not see any reason why I need to collect money.

As an alternative, and strange as it sounds, the Volunteers of the world, normally pay to volunteer, thereby the revenues of a Volunteer organization pointed at the malnutrition project would make a self-funding sustainable form of income, plus I can also collect advertising fees on the site and help pay.

I think I can make a self-funding operation that used the money of volunteers and advertisers 100 percent to pay for the project. No, need for donation, although a person paying to volunteer could be said to be making a donation to help the project.

The normal cost of being a volunteer overseas is between 150 to 1200 US dollars per month. If a person signs up normally they pay around 300 US dollars a month for the amount of time they volunteer to the organization. Therefore if a person volunteers to work for thee months they pay an application fee of 900 Dollars, in addition they may or not pay for the housing, and food, normally I believe the housing is provide, but the food is not.

The cost to provide a hotel or room in most countries like say Niger is about one US dollars per day, so the cost of giving the room is 30 per month, and say miscellaneous cost is four per day, then the cost to house a volunteer is about 150 per month, then the organization pockets about 150 per month from every volunteer. This money can be used to buy seeds, moringa trees, and any thing needed.

Most of the problems with Malnutrition are not money issues, they are educational issues. There are large amounts of money available for food and crisis problem. The doctors without borders are well funded and you can tell, by the cars they drive.

Taking donations remove the desire to be profitable; I do not wish to make an organization that does think income and expenses. How do we generate income and then manage it efficiently.

There will not be a need to sing a song of sadness to promote the organization.

Trip to Tanout Niger

Zinder Niger Day

Zinder Niger Day
Zinder Niger West Africa
Saturday, October 7, 2006

I am not sure what to do in Zinder; it is hot and dusty feeling, a place where you wait for the cool of evening before you move. I am back form talking with my new friend Josef as the Eden Foundation and all the stores were closed. I could not buy the Banana Frozen Milk they sell for 125 Franc here. I also want to buy some canned vegetables to cook in the room as they have a good selection.

Africa is interesting, the food for the most part sucks, and I mean I cannot even pay a lot to be happy, unusual on the planet. I really want to cook food here to be happy, a great place to have a kitchen in the hotel whereby I could cook anything I want and not what they wish to serve. I have not found any foods of great desire, unless you call a benet great food. I did eat a type of benet with hot sauce in Kandi that needs to be canned and sent to my house. Reminded me of sauce I got in India one time in Hampi.

Sauces are what I like to eat on the planet, nothing else really excites, but a good new sauce is great.

I had a long day, I am tired, the 10-11 hours on the bus took its toll on my body, I am trying to recoup from too much of too much.

I will get all my photos published, I have about 500 more to do and I can leave Zinder caught up enough on internet work to feel good. I like to get the photos off my computer and on the internet so if someone steals or breaks the computer I am safe, actually, I have them on the flash drive, but in a freak way, if both were stolen, I want them backed up on the internet and that is where people look anyway.

Zinder Niger Day

Travel Natitingou to Kandi

Travel Natitingou to Kandi
Kandi Benin
Wednesday, October 4, 2006

3500 CFA from Nat to Djougou to Parakou
2500 CFA from Parakou to Kandi

Left Hotel at 7:15, and arrived in Kandi Hotel at 3:00 in afternoon, about 400 Kilometers, the most for one day for me here.

I appear to need to go very far south and then very far north to go to Kandi. I may have been able to go across from up near the park, however I was ready to go to Niger.

Nat to Djougou 50 Kilometers.
Djougou to Parakou 130
Parakou to Kandi 205

I took the cattle cars and more or less, they were direct. Small Peugeot cars and full. Four in front seat and four in the back seat. I was in the front, I should call this Peugeot Yoga, on the second leg, and the armrest was eating my ribs.

I almost stayed in Parakou, however too busy, too much, and the next leg happened easy. I do not like big cities, hard to see anything for the concrete.

I do not how quick a person could go north, Ndali is just a stop, not a city or much and Guessou-Sud is nothing either. I like a city called Gamia, there was a market on. My friend would have to be lot better to deal with some of the conversations needed to find all the hotels in these small villages.

Travel Natitingou to Kandi

Travel Natitingou to Kandi to Niger

Travel Natitingou to Kandi
Natitingou Benin West Africa

I want to go north from Natitingou toward Niger, I cannot find the path, I can see the roads, but that does not mean it is a good path.

To use a Bush Taxi, NOT called a Bush Taxi, called Taxi or maybe Voiture, which means car in French, better to day Taxi.

I need to say the major city. The guidebook sucks; it only says places that the guidebook is recommending as tourist attractions. There are almost zero tourists; therefore, they do not care about me. The maps in the guide only show these cities.

What I need to travel between Natitingou and Kandi is the major Taxi routes.

The locals have never seen a map, and do not know any cities other than the ones they actually go to.

I have finally discovered the small regional capitals on my map in the Encyclopedia. They capitals appear to be Kandi, Ndali, Natitingou, Parakou, and Djougou.

These cities they seem to know, however from Natitingou to Kandi is a long way, very few of them know or have ever hard of Kandi.

I have very paths I can take, really annoying.

1. Natitingou

2. Natitingou

3. Natitingou
Drougon Gouro

I must choose one city to say, I am going to say,
- Niger
- Then Kandi
- Then Dali

I think I have to go to Parakou, then to Kandi, it is highly possible it is ten times faster to go the extra 30-40 Kilometers and go to Parakou and not straight east of Natitingou.

The bottom line is this, the

You need to read it as a person driving and understand, they can easy go a very short distance from two cities, while there may only be public transportation on a long-wait basis normally.

I DID discover, if I went on MARKET day, I may do better, there are these regional market, hard to figure out, but if I traveled on the day from that Natitingou has a market, I think I could go more places.

I need to go, it is 7:00, and I need to be at the stop by 7:30.

Travel Natitingou to Kandi

Lysol Wipes Hotel Cleaning

Lysol Wipes Hotel Cleaning
Natitingou Benin West Africa
Tuesday, October 3, 2006

I purchased a large box from a wholesale food vender of these hand wipe things for restaurant. When I received them, they we so mild, I they were just to look good. I was excited when I saw, however I could not remember, either Clorox or Lysol wipes in the grocery store on a trip the USA.

The was in a bigger type plastic bottle, I passed, but thought, what a great thing to take traveling. I have storage of products problem, if I opened a container with an easy to pop lid, the baby would be dried out and worthless before I entered the second city. Backpacks are not good for lids. I would like some individually packed wipes.

India is the place where Clorox, something toxic, something big, expensive and I would pay to buy wipes is needed. Clorox or chlorine based, bleach products are sold in most countries. To carry around Clorox is a major risk to all the contents of my bag. Is some cooking oil leaks out, a bad problem, but solvable, however if the Clorox leaks out, then in am in big doo doo.

I have used and purchased some containers trying to carry hard to carry items. I have two very good Shampoos and Conditioner bottles even went to the factory to buy them, I cannot buy this type of bottle. They discontinued the product that used the bottle.

How to buy a bottle that will not leak in my backpack?

Ok, read this article, it is full of bull in many ways, but there is a good point to this.

1. Dry Surfaces or the bedspreads were not good at keeping viruses.

2. Anything you touch regularly is also touched by others.

I have been for years that hotels are dirty, they are cleaned as good as the people that work in the hotels. I would get worried if the workers are from India.

Ok, this is the point; people clean to the standards of their culture. To the bottom level of their culture because it is the bottom of the barrel that clean room. It is the top of the El Salvador culture that may be cleaning a USA hotel room, however it is still El Salvador or Mexico, give me El Salvadorians before Mexicans.

O, I deal with it, I have no choice, however in India, and I have scrubbed showers before I used them.

I am going to remember the wet idea; I do believe anything wet is a problem. I remember in the Caribbean Craig had them Teva Sandals and they stunk.

I think they had leather tops or what was under the soles of his feet was a soft leather pad. I use a flip-flop baby, and it is always dry. I think of how bad it must be to have Teva Sandals if they have the leather. I know the problem with the Teva shoes stinking is the type of Rubber, I bought some shoes with Thailand rubber and had to throw them away, the ones made in Indonesia do not stink. Both were Reeboks, but a different model.

I wear my sandals when it is raining; my Reeboks are too hard to get dry. I also change or use new socks every day. I have about 15 pair, and this allows me to do this, same for underwear.

I had a person say 15 was ridiculous, trust me that to me is the minimal amount, I go down to the last pair often. I wear the sandal though to avoid washing socks.

My feet are in sandals more than in shoes, I do think having nice dry feet keeps them in good shape. I see some monster size shoes that are trendy and think what a pile of weight. Now, I am going to think is anything growing in there.

Moisture is a constant problem in a bag; I dry off with my sheet on the bed so the towel is dry. It will rot inside a backpack on a long trip.

Lysol Wipes Hotel Cleaning

ONG Organisation Non Gouvernementale

ONG Organisation Non Gouvernementale
Zinder Niger West Africa
Saturday, October 7, 2006

I was gung ho, quick to think, quick to make decision, quick to find answers on the problems of malnutrition after I saw a feeding center in Zinder last year. Fortunately, persistence and sound learning skills on my part has prevailed.

I know many concepts of culture, how it works, how it fails to work, I move continuously from one culture to the next culture.

I make a joke,
- When I can speak the language of the culture, marry a women form the country, and then live in the country for 20 years. I will then may have a right to say my opinion about the country. Up until then, I am just guessing. -

The joke of this is any Western person will sit around for hours and tell stories of what is wrong with a country or culture and all the ways to fix it; however, I do know, I do not know how to fix it, but I still like to talk.

ONG Organisation Non Gouvernementale
The French acronym ONG and the words to explain in French for the English equivalent of
NGO Non Governmental Organization.

Applying my joke, I need to speak the language….

This is accurate and Niger is officially a French speaking country, however lets be real. They do not speak French, they speak Hausa as the major language and they do not read or write, therefore in Niger may jokes takes a meandering path down a crazy trail.

I commend the Peace Corps, they are the only ones I know who learn to speak Hausa, however they are not a NGO or ONG, they are an arm of the United States Government.

I stole the term from some description from some novel explaining how to set up an offshore hide your money account by having four separated corporations until the owners were hidden. They called it a four-layered cake, if I remember correct.

I say,
- Multi Layered Cake -

Culture is a multi-layered cake, that can only be eaten slowly and over time, as you eat one layer, the next layer slowly exposes itself. To understand another culture other than you own, you must experience and understand this, you cannot learn it in a book, and it is an experience. My guess is the two-year stint of the Peace Corps is just about the correct time to have the experience. However, there is this ability of a person to completely avoid having the experience, therefore only about one in ten Peace Corps volunteers, maybe paid is better, but they are not just free, they get a stipend, well, the one in ten probably starts to understand. That does not mean they have the will, fortitude or the ability to stick the knife in the belly and twist to make hard decision that implement change.

ONG Organization Non Gouvernementale is maybe me evolving from layer one of this cake to start to eat layer two.

Traveling from Abidjan to here by bush taxi in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin has given me an overview of the cultures that influence this culture. I am on the median here; I am on the cusp between Arabic Islamic cultures of the Middle East and the more Christian Catholic cultures of the coast or southern Africa. I am confused traveling in the world of Anglophone and Francophone, so forth and onward.

I just realized one thing and maybe I understand now.
Red Cross means the Christian one and Red Crescent is the Islamic or Muslim versions.

I am a curious sort, I rather like to learn about anything and everything, and then I connect the dots until the multi layered cake of the specific topic become clear.

I do now know the name of the studies in University that deals with NGO or ONG however, I am sure it is oversimplified. There is the study or tribes, language, history, cultures, business, poverty, learning and many correct words or the technical words that explain the study of these words.

Ethnology, Anthropology, International studies etc. and many form words of study, however if you know the list of studies, then maybe the first layer is being exposed of what ONG Organisation Non Gouvernementale means or is, and what they do.

I on the other hand, see some very negative results and think Ahimsa, or first do no harm, before I go off wanting to change the world.

No story is as simple as it first appears, and the humility to take a stance, and then accept knowingly that next week, year, moment you may need to adapt and accept you are wrong, and then a person can start, has a chance.

I write many things in this blog, sometimes I wish to go back and edit, correct, save my butt from looking so stupid. On the other hand, this has no humility, it says, I will only expose the perfect Andy, I will not expose the real, authentic Andy. This is in the bottom line, only a personal diary, it is not some research study and should not be read as one and trust me, you should not trust a the facts in a guidebook, just read as a guide. I am not even a guide, I am just some guy traveling the world and enjoying spouting off opinions, some are wrong and some or terribly accurate.

ONG Organisation Non Gouvernementale

Why People do Not Travel to Africa

Why People do Not Travel to Africa
Natitingou Benin West Africa
Tuesday, October 3, 2006

I am in Benin, West Africa, I am trying to remember the feelings, the thoughts and why I have not traveled to Africa before. Now, that I am here, it is crazy I have not come in big before…

1. I never met many people that came here.
2. The ones that came acted like it was very difficult.
3. Airplane Cost - The cost to enter Africa by plane is expensive.
4. Visa, there is nothing simple and clear about Visa explained or I have ever read.
5. Danger, CNN and BBC constantly advertise danger.
6. NGO’s constantly advertise extreme poverty. (I have not seen, worst in South America and Philippines.)
7. Military Coups
8. Cost of living in Africa.

The big one is the cost; it is about 1.5 to 2 times more than traveling in South American and about 50 percent less than traveling in Europe.

The average room is about 12 dollar, there is a possible room at 4-8, and however this price ranged need extensive research to find.

Why People do Not Travel to Africa

Telephone Internet in Africa

Telephone Internet in Africa
Natitingou Benin West Africa
Tuesday, October 3, 2006

I like Africa more than I thought I would, therefore I making plans already on how to return to Africa.

I have two trips where I could be for weeks without Electrical lines or Cell phone access. On the Amazon River and by Camel across the Sahara.

I want continuous Internet Access and the ability to receive phone calls anywhere in Africa.

This is easy to do by Satellite systems I think, although I have serious concerns about how to point the thing at the sky. My GPS or Global Positioning Satellite device does not work in area with large building. To go to the top of buildings, to set up equipment, it dangerous and I greatly increase my chances of being robbed. People see me doing something they become curious, and they come over, they learn, and tell everyone. I do not tell people I have a computer in my room. With the satellite connection, I may in a way announce it to the world.

GPRS would be a lot better access, and it is possible that Areeba already is providing this for most of Africa; I do think they have this for Ghana already, but I need to confirm.

Calling an Internet Access point in France or USA is still an option; I could maybe call the USA with a cell phone and have access.

Satellite will reach everywhere, however to take a camel trip across the Sahara and blog every day needs a solar panel to provide electricity.



I am using a figure of 10 dollars per Meg of transfer as being feasible for internet. I think I can do less than 5 dollars per day and be feasible.

NGO’s and CNN, the Military are the big users of Satellite Internet access technology. I know the military is not price conscious, I think CNN and NGO rather think, I need to call my family, I do not care how much it cost.

CNN is using for real business applications, therefore they would care if the connection were down.

NGO’s have a perceived need of urgent contact; I have never seen an NGO stay in a place with zero electrical lines or internet access. They base from normally good cities and great tourist areas and go to bad areas. They do go to bad areas, but they do not have their bases there, in Niger, they were in Zinder, and drove their NGO-SUV-TOYOTA to Zermou and picked up the children and took back to Zinder. Now, they would use Satellite and pay, even though there was good internet access in the city. This is a stupid cost, and nothing to do with need.

Any time I am close to the internet, I will be sending information by normal internet and using the Cyber Cafes here in Africa, not the satellite.

TIME, there is a time problem, I do not understand the internet in Africa, however from 8-10 in the morning it is ok, from 8 to 12 at night it is ok and if they are open all night, I suppose ok also, but they are not open all night normally.


I have internet access on an average TWO days per week I think, this means I have 4 hours per week of internet access where I can send and it works. In this time, I can FTP about 50 photos or about six Megs, this would cost me 60 US Dollars by satellite.

By internet café, it cost me on average, ONLY in Africa, two dollars or one dollar per hour for internet access.

I have two types of photos, I take about 30-50 photos per day, and maybe post about three per day to the blog. The cost of blog photos is not a big expense; however, the cost of newsletter photos is a lot.

The problem here is how to find the great gates or places in Africa where I can send large amounts of information quickly. The major cities normally are it.

The Areeba Cell phone company seems to be the only company that could provide me with very expensive phone access and the same telephone number. The companies try to get you with the roaming fees, it is tricky, I think impossible to calculate and budget, but there does seem to be access with Areeba to many of the countries. Every country has their best carrier and I can buy a SIM card, the problem is you come across a border from say Togo to Benin and if you wanted access for the few days you are traveling to Contonou, it becomes very complicated and stupid.

TIME all of this comes down to time, how much time can a person devote to calling home, or going to the internet. From a business point of view, most of this can wait until I am at a great café. I see though people need to call their parents or family and just throw money into the air in reality many NGO, Peace Corps and such spend half their days just staying in touch and doing very little.

Telephone Internet in Africa