It will be the dry season in the Azawak, the time of year when there are no rains to breed many bugs anyway. That's a boon for me in terms of bites, but it is not a pretty time for the people of the Azawak. I'm sure I will see many ugly things that I could never imagine. Who could conceive of a population of people left to die of thirst? It's unspeakable!
But also I know I will witness the generosity that Ariane has told me about, and I will see the beauty depicted in her photos. I am especially looking forward to meeting the people in Tangarwashane and seeing first-hand how they are faring now that they've had access to water for over a year. They have water to bathe their bodies, water to clean their wounds, water to wash their clothing. They also have water to grow crops. I know that their condition will be worlds away from people I’ll meet in other areas of the Azawak where we will conduct our feasibility study for the next borehole. People who are still having to travel as much as 35 miles in a day in search of water. The statement “Water is Life” never rang more true than in a place like the Azawak.
I wonder what it will be like to see what Newsweek reporter Scott Johnson described as a “Paradise amidst Hell”. He visited Tangarwashane in July, 2008 and in contrast to other parts of the Azawak where he saw people dying, in Tangarwashane people were thriving. They had set up a store to sell goods. He described how “people worshipped their borehole. It was their God, and they took care of it like they would an Idol.” The children were happy and playing. I can’t wait to see that.
The Tangarwashane children should be in a good enough health to participate in the Friendship Exchange that I'm planning. I'm going to bring over necklaces and bracelets made by children in America for them. Each piece of jewelry will have a photo of the child who made it. I can’t wait to see the faces of the children in Tangarwashane when I give them their gift and explain to them that children in America want to be their friend. And since a photo will be attached to each necklace and bracelet they’ll get to see what their new friend looks like! The children there will make necklaces and bracelets with the beads I give them. Then, I’ll take their picture and bring their jewelry back to their friend in America. I’m hopeful that this exchange will make these children more real for each other.
If your students want to make bracelets for the Friendship Exchange with the children of the Azawak, please contact me as soon as possible. I'm leaving February 14th!