With an ongoing famine and drought, the future of Guidan Gado, Niger, used to look dreary at best. But with the help of Samaritan’s Purse, the villagers hope to start growing more food despite the difficulties they encounter. To support or learn about Raise a Village in Guidan Gado, please visit our Animals and Agriculture Page.
Faces of Guidan Gado
The chief of Guidan Gado, Mahaman Chaibou, stands outside the village as he contemplates its future. “I love Guidan Gado the way a father loves his children,” he said.
The graineries in Guidan Gado are all empty. Because of the drought, the people haven’t been able to fill the buildings with anything for a few years.
Zaha Illia’s hope is to have enough food and water to provide for her children. If the rain continues to deny the villagers water, they will have to leave the village. “We only know how to pound millet,” she said.
Because the drought has lasted for a few years, the food the villagers are able to harvest only lasts about two months. Men in their 20s and 30s are scarce in the village because most of them have left to find work in Nigeria.
The chief of Guidan Gado is in his 30th year as chief. He is the fifth chief of the village. Before him, his father and uncle ruled. Although he has seen difficult times in the village, he believes that the help Samaritan’s Purse offers will not only benefit Guidan Gado, but it will also help all of the villages in the area.
There are many young boys in the village, but if conditions don’t improve, they will likely leave just like the older men.
Yahaya Yacuba (right) is a 60-year-old villager with 13 children and no land to farm. Although some of his neighbors will occasionally lend him farming land, it’s usually the area with the poorest soil. Still, his entire family has always lived in the village, and he has no desire to move anywhere else.
The roofs of the graineries are made of sticks and leaves that are thatched together. Unfortunately, they haven’t been needed recently.
“Auta” Malam Idi is a 58-year-old woman with eight children. Three of her children and her husband are dead. She gets water from one of two water points outside the village, but because they are both broken, it can take 40 minutes just to fill one bucket. People from six neighboring villages also use the wells, and because they are guests, Guidan Gado residents always allow them to get water first, meaning the villagers often spend hours waiting by the well.
“I wanna see the children running and laughing in this village again,” said country director Alan Bobbett. “I wanna see the ability to celebrate the village rather than deplore it’s conditions and wonder what’s gonna have to happen before everybody quits leaving.”
Although getting water is easier for this man with his tank, he still doesn’t have an animal to pull his cart. Because of the drought, a lot of animals have died. Many people don’t even have enough food to feed their families.
In farming villages like Guidan Gado, animals show a person’s wealth. The lack of them shows that many people in the village are now poor.
The chief’s wife, Saratou Salifou, describes the death of six of her children as the will of God. She and her husband are trying to find a spouse for their oldest daughter, 14-year-old Rachida (in background).
The few men who have stayed in Guidan Gado still farm despite knowing that they will only harvest enough crops to provide food for the village for two months. They want to be trained in modern agriculture techniques, especially dry season farming. Currently they don’t have the means to farm during the dry season.
: Harit Illia, the sister of Zaha, shares her sister’s concerns about having to leave the village if conditions do not improve. However, she’s able to keep a good attitude and often jokes with the people around her.
Traditionally in Guidan Gado, parents believe that their daughters should not attend school because they will learn new information rather than helping their mothers at home. However, because most young men are now leaving the village, many girls are attending school because their parents realize they are the future of Guidan Gado.
Although the children in Guidan Gado, don’t have a lot, they are creative in entertaining themselves. Here, a boy plays with a toy he made from plastic bottles and other scraps.
Sixty-five percent of Niger’s population is under the age of 15. “If we can reach the children, we can change the entire country,” said Samaritan’s Purse country director Alan Bobbett.
Niger Projects Niger is one of the poorest countries on earth, ranking among the lowest on the United Nations Development Program's Human Development Index. Drought cycles, instability, and desertification continue to have a negative impact on the economy. To help alleviate poverty and reduce malnutrition in villages such as Guidan Gado, Samaritan's Purse implements livestock and agriculture programs to help vulnerable families. Household water treatment systems and latrines have also been installed in a number of villages to reduce disease. Through all of these projects, we seek to share God’s Word in a country that is around 98 percent Muslim.
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