September 13, 2005 7:30 AM Tuesday
This culture is making the transition from a tribal farming and herding culture to a city industrial culture. However there is no clear way of making money except for providing services to the NGOs and the Government Agencies.
There is a need for some mass employment because the subsistent farming is not needed and the people go to the cities looking for, I wanted to say jobs, I think they go to the city to look for fun. They want a more interesting life with MTV, Television and groups of people to talk with, plus the fashions. Everyone is buying a motorcycle or cell telephone in the city, it is full of consumer type items. To buy a motorcycle is the dream of almost everyone it appears. Having a cell telephone is more fashion then a need in this country, I can take a Moto Taxi across the city for 100 Francs to talk with the person.
Entrepreneur do not need money, then need a product and a market, then they will find the money.
Failure to Thrive
6:45 PM Tuesday September 13, 2005
I am sad in many ways about my trip to Niger, there are real problems here and now I can see in many places where I have visited many times there is the same problem. There are children under the age of five that die because they do not either get breast fed long enough or
In the first 5 years.
1. They do not receive the proper balance of foods. - Malnutrition
2. The mother does not love or care for the baby.
"Failure to Thrive." This is a Psychology Term!
(This is in the USA also.)
The list of ways then the baby is attacked by their Environment just grows from there, they have Malaria, infections, diseases, the get hit by motorcycles or cars because they are dull. This child is not able to survive
in the world they live.
Darwin would possibly say it was normal selective removal of the weak. Maybe this is necessary or correct, I am not clear in my mind.
The lack of love problem probably is less in the smaller villages because the mother does not get lost in the mess of the city, and the local social group is able to and wants to exert pressure on the nuclear family of the villagers. Plus you have a sort of chief of the village that monitors and cares for the group. A big brother or father image.
( A really vicious ant was attacking me crawling in my hair, ants are the worst for me, mosquitoes are manageable, ants can go anywhere.)
There is this cultural myth of a possible transference of belief systems that is extremely damaging. It is the idea that we love our children and care for our children so all families and all cultures love and care for their children.
This is probably true in 80 percent of the family lives however in the 20 percent of families there is not a bond of love that binds them, it is more a need for each other bond, the mother and father need workers and helpers, the children need protection and housing.
Street children are more or less children that are not wanted.
I cannot believe how bad the ants are, they have attacked and bitten me so much I had to get up and kill about 10 of them, or as many as I could kill. I wonder if ants carry any diseases or viruses? I turned off the Air Conditioner and suddenly the problem became worst. They are very tough ants, the only way to kill them is to put between my fingers and grind them to death.
3:23 PM Monday September 12, 2005
I have arrived by bus from Zinder to Agadez, Niger; the trip took from 5:00 AM to 2:30 PM so I guess about 9 or 10 hours. It was an easy trip, however I have yet to encounter these great SNTV Air Conditioned Buses, and this was the third bus and no air conditioning. I am thinking the normal travel route is directly to Agadez and nobody really goes toward Zinder, Maradi, or Tanout so it would be easy to think there are many air-conditioned buses. I have seen them, just have not experienced them.
The world is s funny place, I got a ride in a Mercedes Benz to the bus stop with Bab, and however he was not sure where the bus stop is located. We do find it and I leave, there is enough children on the bus for two buses, I am guessing a minimum of seven persons per row, however mostly small children and fat mamas.
We had a tarvy road the whole way except for one stretch of maybe two hours where we did the sand road trip.
Took me a few Hotels to land in my present hotel, kept finding these other travelers who were not able to suss out the city and could not recommend or evaluate the city. One French girl with her Niger Boyfriend in tow, and a French and Fat American girl that seemed lost, and for sure, I did not trust.
I came upon four Peace Corps people who recommended a great hotel. I went to the Hotel they where they are staying, it is expensive, and it was 36,000 and then he discounted to 32,000, I said I would pay 15,000. Therefore, the great hotel told me to go across the street and I got a good room for 15,000. Therefore, even though the Peace Corp people are staying in the Five Star Equivalent for Agadez, the advice helped me find a realistic Hotel.
What I wanted was the - Popular with the Backpackers - Hotel in Agadez, and they seemed a little wise to the idea, however not really hip, so they kept thinking only price, and I was wanting a hotel with at least one person for conversation purposes.
The Hotels here are empty and mostly trying to pull my leg, I think, as they really take the tourist to the cleaners here.
This is a pushy city and everyone attempts to become my tour guide by walking with me, I do not pay for being annoyed, so they always get frustrated with me when I do not pay, not guilt in this boy.
I have not seen any camels in the city and few with the scarves around their heads, I am hoping when the heat of the day passes the city come alive, it for sure is dead presently.
I am right next to the Mosque so maybe in the Center of The Backpackers Universe for Agadez. I was laughing with the Peace Corp people as they were saying there is no backpacker Hotels. I said there are no backpackers in Niger; however, I did see one Photographer. I am the only person traveling in Niger that I know for sure is a backpacker. There is a French Couple that is maybe tourist or backpackers; however all the rest are NGOs or Peace Corp or some paid to be here types.
Hmm, I think it would be possible to count the number or White Western People I have seen, maybe around 30 in the country. Note, most of the NGOs are not full of Western looking people they are mostly Niger or imported from Nigeria or one of the closer countries.
Oh yes, I forgot, the Doctors without Borders had maybe 20 people in the one spot, this is the only organization that is all Westerners or at least highly educated people. Most of the NGOs are below par for competing in the world.
I have been mulling it over and I keep trying to figure out how this works, maybe the NGOs spot the people and the Red Cross and the Doctors without Borders set up a nutrition center to help the children that need a high energy nutritional food boost to get them healthy.
I am trying to not call it a - Feeding Center - even though this is partially true, they are being fed, however it is not just food, it is special food for the children who are failing to thrive due to improper types of food.
There is an interesting parallel here that is the same as the food for oil stupidity that happened in Iraq. I watched by accident on CNN the man give his speak to the United Nations about the Food for Oil program in Iraq and the problems. Kofi Annan did react honorably, and this is good.
However as the speech was given, the man outline a situation whereby the person Sadaam had the ability or too much freedom in how the program was ran. This to me is self-evident that the United Nations and all the various legs of the give the country receiving the aid, the ability to manipulate the aid.
On a more expansive thought for me, I can now add a new way of attaining wealth in the world. I normally say the way to be wealthy in most countries on the planet is to become part of the political network, however I must now add that to work for organizations meant to distribute money to problem areas means you get to drive around in a car that would cost more than the village, live like a person from Switzerland, and never again have to associate or take a normal person public transportation.
Note that Niger has very few street lights so like walking around a bad neighborhood at night, an eerie feeling.
I leave for Agadez, maybe NO emails for three days.
Here is newsletter
I was going to go and take photos of BBC while they filmed in Zinder a couple of days ago. After Talking with Ahmed of the Doctors without Borders, I respected his request to not turn this into some type of circus. These are small children and the last thing needed is for me to be trying to photograph BBC for fun.
I will track down BBC another time. I have taken photos of some children in the Red Cross Nutritional center. I did this with the utmost respect and as quickly as possible.
So sorry, no photos of BBC.
I do not work for BBC, I am Andy of HoboTraveler.com. I only place photos on the net and no cinema type films.
For people trying to write me, I think it is best to write with the form on this page, my Yahoo mail is working and I think the other, however Niger, Nigeria and many countries are well known for being big spammers. This mean that the big internet providers will sometimes just block the whole country, countries or other ways.
I think the Yahoo or Hotmail are best accounts to write me, if you are wanting to write me a from your corporation account, maybe 25 percent chance it is blocked.
Hard to know the world would think about blocking a person personal mail, or just wipe whole countries off the planet. Email is becoming as important as normal mail, would you like your home mail blocked from a country on the planet?
Note the Spell Check is blocked with Pop up blocker, the world is a control freak.
Photos from the city of Zinder, Niger of the Mal-Nutrition.
This girl has flies all over her eyes, hard to think of what I am to do, should I swat them away, or should I take a photo, or should I encourage the mother to do so, the child does not seem to defend herself against the flies.
These are twins setting on the lap of the mother in the Red Cross Nutritional feeding center, they are not here to eat, there are here to eat the correct foods.
This baby is maybe what you call - Wasting - there is no meat on the bones, she is small, fragile.
A group of women and children waiting for something, I am not really sure what, however they are inside the compound of the Nutritional Feed Center, there is a huge problem with words here, very easy to mix you up and focus on the wrong idea. They are here because they did not eat balanced diets, full of fruits, vegetable and vitamins.
Some of the looks the children have are precious, I really like the children. I am sad here in this room though, me taking photos has excited the mothers, they all want me to take photos, and some of the children are being prodded to pose. The small ones do not understand and start to cry, however I have a choice, do I make the adults happy, or do I stop so the small children stop crying. I am not causing the problem directly, the mothers are so anxious for me to photograph them for many reasons, they know the children are why I am here, so that is good enough. They will set up the children to pose, this is pushy and the children are not happy. This one though is an interested child, curious and better. I tried my best to keep the mother from getting excited and pushy for the photos. I was at best only five minutes in this room, I had to leave for my own sense of respect, they are not here for a photo session no matter how many the adults want me take photos.
This is Lipto
I am not sure if the guy is saying Lipton, however it is Chi or Tea for sure, and the one friend or guard of the home I am in is addicted for sure, he sits around all day and all night drinking and offering this to me, it pretty good, I have yet to see the actual tea.
This may be my solution to internet anywhere in the world; the Doctors without Borders were downloading one said with MSN their emails from this BGAN machine. This seems to be the NGO and Doctors solution to fulfilling their personal need to keep in contact with their families.
Note the internet café here cost 1500 Niger Francs per hour, is very good, this is about 3 dollars per hour.
This made me personally feel good to see this Volkswagen Van with the decal or sticker saying
- Medecins Sans Frontieres -
This is a practical, cheap, efficient and normal type of transportation for Niger. I am not sure, I could be wrong, however, to me to understand the reasons for this problem we need to get closer to them not father away, we need to live as they live.
The argument though on the converse would be that they will only listen to the Chiefs or Bosses of the world, the Nassara maybe, so sometimes the other path is needed to sell them on what they need to do.
Ironic, I am photographing these vehicles, and a huge United Nations SUV passes and I take this photo.
Market in Zinder Niger, or a street with lots of people selling things.
This grasshopper or - Cricket - as the people of Niger call it may be a part of the problem, this big Locust or whatnot is also a food item for them, they eat, just like they need more protein in their diets.
The man with the good eyes.
I will have a closer photo of this man of 63 in my newsletter, he is a good guy and was the teacher of Rabi, I tried my best to say to him or explain to him about how I see his eyes as being good. I can then see his heart I say, he understands, as anyone that can see into the heart has the same ability.
We had a pretty long conversation about Cowboys, as he like Cowboy films with John Wayne.
6:24 AM Sunday September 11, 2005
This man dressed in normal clothes is Mageri Maman Rabiou he has been helping learn about the Niger Culture. His dream is to write a book about Africa, he has a name already:
More or less this means in English African Apocalypse - Dead End.
We were having a conversation, I was using my Encarta Encyclopedia translation function to get us past the difficult words, I was trying to learn a way to go to Zermou, sometimes spelled also Zermo or Zerma, it means valley in I think the Hausa language.
Ok, I wanted to go this city and I am also trying in this conversation with Rabi as is simple to call him and common, the basics of what I learned from Ahmed of the Doctors without Borders.
Rabi is on a one-track path explaining the theme of his book, he is driving me crazy explaining that the people of Africa need to take responsibility, and after his research, he has found the present problem to be a problem of the mind, the thinking.
However he keeps saying Africa people are lazy, and I told him to stop, this is not a conversation I wish to get into with him or in this country, I always opens up a map of the world and explained that the tropics area between 23 ½ degrees above and below the equator were more or less all the same, the sit around a lot because of the heat, plus the only essential need is food. House, home, cars, TV are just a luxury, heat for the home is not, so life can be extremely easy.
I hope he write his book, I am not optimistic, however I have only encouraged him, he says he will send me a copy; he says it will be done in one year.
Our friendship became strained yesterday as we went together, me paying for two Motorcycles to go to Zermou. It was a day of torture, as everyone as gave us the little no problem solutions and we drove motorcycles into a place where they were not meant to go, a donkey or camel yes, 4 wheel drive maybe. The strain was because what he said was a three-hour trip lasted from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. This was a needed trip; I needed to know for sure, witness a real village. I took the only option that was not a dead-end and took my only sure option. There are four wheel drive old Land Rovers that go to this place, however the two Motorcycles drivers thought they could make their weeks money in three hours off of me, I am not sure about Rabi, I know now the only way to keep his friendship is to go down to today and buy it back for 10,000 Francs, I am going to do this, however I know it is a bad idea, I am only teaching him that he is not responsible and that if he pouts, I will give him money.
We got into an argument at 4:00 PM yesterday at one of many villages we stopped at, a local leader or small small group of people wanted us to sit and have free food. I am under the impression that nobody could turn down free food, the leader was trying to treat me to a good meal, sort of a thing of respect. I wanted to proceed on, telling Rabi it was dangerous to delay, and it was, and it became later extremely evident as Rabi and his driver wrecked their motorcycle and now Rabi has a big cut on his leg, not deep, not bleeding a lot, however I am sure it hurts. He blames me.
The argument was we must leave, we only have three hours of sunlight, we have one more hour of travel to Zermou, we have ten minutes to spend in Zermou, then have one hour to drive to Zinder. If we drive at night, it will be dangerous. I keep trying to explain time and planning and thinking ahead and this was driving me crazy, the word - impasse - is what is so correct or dead-end is so absolutely correct. I am listening to Rabi drill into my head this word impasse and I want to slap him side the head,
- IMPASSE - !
You are trying to make me enter a dead-end!
Stopping to eat took up at least 30 minutes, and I had to walk many kilometers to set a pace or they would have just sat down and stopped, I am 49, Rabi is maybe 30, and the two drivers are maybe 20. I am not the one to walk around, I want to scream.
BE A WARRIOR!
I have no words, I do not speak Hausa, I do not speak French, I could scream this, I know that they are on a dead-end, I cannot motivate, the only motivation I knew was to keep walking and let them finally think, we cannot let the white man walk.
I am not sure where this comes from, however they all believe I should live well and they should not have to live the same. It is annoying as I am always on the special path and they take the lower.
I will go buy back my friendship with Rabi today; I will give him 10,000 Niger Francs, not much for a relationship, maybe 15 dollars USA money.
We went to a village 21-25 miles from Zinder, we took the wrong road, no planning, no thinking, no anticipation, so under-developed, I am not responsible for showing them their own country. I feel like a dollar sign, used, and in the end all that matter is money.
Rabi with his driver wrecked their motorcycle because we stopped to eat for free. We needed to drive through one of the most dangerous stretches of road for a Niger person, as they do not anticipate danger.
I learned with a little torture, maybe the loss of a new friend.
I am 100 percent sure there is no famine in Niger.
As Ahmed said from Doctors without Borders, it is,
- An Epidemic of Mal-Nutrition -
This is Doctor Ahmed Zouiten the Medical Coordinator Switzerland Branch of - Doctors Without Borders - in Niger
The people live on Millet, Goat, Eggs, Chicken, Beef, Beans, Peanuts, maybe the Atkins Diet of only high protein taking to the worst degree.
I am hoping the Atkins diet is the eat only High Protein diet, well it works to eat only high protein. The Millet is the carbohydrates in their diet and supplies the energy. Fruits and Vegetables are scarce and only for the rich man, I can go buy a chunk of beef easy, to buy an apple is difficult.
This is where the day started with me and Rabi, having a discussion about apples…
I am teacher.
I think two times in my life I eat apple.
10:36 AM Saturday September 10, 2005
Mageri Maman Rabiou
An apple a day
keeps the doctor away.
Meat, Rice and Millet
Eggs are expensive
One egg cost 100 Niger Francs if natural if not, then 50
Natural are from Niger and Artificial from Nigeria
Mageri Earns Per Month as a second grade teacher.
(He says he is a Philosophy Teacher.)
121,000 per month 192 Euros Mois
170 per Annes
300 Francs por jour
I decided to make sure Rabi was happy, I gave him 20,000 Niger Francs for his troubles...
He is happy, he met me below and gave me a ride with his Moto or Cycle to this internet cafe.