A Secure Dwelling

March 30, 2012 • Niger

Samaritan's Purse provides relief and new homes for flooding victims in an impoverished village in Niger

Niger’s inhabitants are no strangers to hardship. They live in one of the poorest nations of the world, and are in a constant struggle against devastation caused by famine, hunger, and poverty.

One thing that is not common in this desert country is devastation caused by flooding. Yet, intense rains last August caught the village of Banne Beri by surprise, inundating the small community and destroying several homes, livestock, belongings, and the small amount of food that people possessed.

Village homes built by hand from mud and other local materials stood no chance against the floods and heavy rains. Many homes were completely destroyed, crumbling and falling to the ground, leaving the victims with nowhere to go.

The flood created an utterly overwhelming situation for the people of Banne Beri, who were already facing a poor harvest and little food, and left them with virtually nothing.

Their friends and relatives were facing crises of their own, struggling to provide for members of their own households. They could not be expected to take on the burden of any more unexpected mouths to feed. Flood victims were forced to congregate in the village’s schoolhouse, making the small classrooms their temporary homes for over two months.

“There were so many people in the school that you could not find a place to sleep,” an elderly woman named Kadi Sarah said. “We lost most of our belongings; we didn’t have any food. We were depressed and didn’t know what we were going to do.”

This transitory solution raised even greater concerns for the village as the school year was about to begin, and teachers and children were anxious to start classes in the occupied rooms.

Fortunately, Samaritan’s Purse Niger caught wind of the crisis in Banne Beri and was able to work together with the community to find a solution. We helped provide food and built new homes for 34 different households.

Because of the threat of potential future floods, the majority of the new houses were relocated and built on the outskirts of the village. Out of gratitude for rebuilding the homes, village leaders decided to name the new cluster of homes “Cité Samaritan’s Purse.”

In a recent visit to the new community of rebuilt homes, Samaritan Purse staff members encouraged the community and applauded them for their hard work and contribution to restoring their homes. They also had the opportunity to talk about the work of Samaritan’s Purse, and to tell the story of the Good Samaritan.

The local government representatives responded with overflowing appreciation. The village chief emphasized the value of the new relationship between the village and Samaritan’s Purse. He said that Samaritan’s Purse worked “hand-in-hand” with the people of Banne Beri, strengthening and motivating them.

The flood victims could not hide their smiles and satisfaction. Karimou walked around with a huge grin on his face, proudly showing off his newly built mud and brick house. Karimou lost everything when his old house fell. He was distraught, not knowing how he was going to provide for his wife and eight children, one of whom is severely handicapped. He felt blessed and overjoyed to receive the precious gift of a new home for his large family.

Belkeisa had just been married when the floods came. She had recently moved into a new house that was especially built and decorated for her and her new husband. The young couple had just begun to create a home of her own when they were completely uprooted. Belkeisa felt relief and comfort when she found out that another brand new home was going to be built by Samaritan’s Purse.

Now Belkeisa is proudly living in her newly decorated two-room house with her husband.