Female voices from Niger: 'Believe in women'
Marie Dounka's brother offered her support and advice, which gave her the courage and confidence to start her career. She tells her story in the third blog from our Female Voices from Niger series.
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Salissou Harouna has been working with Concern in Niger since 2004. In those 14 years, he has seen more than his fair share of inspiring moments. However, there is one that makes his heart “burst with joy”.
I was working as a Logistics Assistant on a Goat Distribution Project, when we visited the most remote villages of Tahoua, where we were assisting the most disadvantaged and vulnerable households. Here, I saw just how different life was for people compared to my life in the city. I had grown up in Niamey, the capital. I was a city kid. Although my father had grown up in the bush, before working with Concern, I had never left Niamey. Around 80% of people in Niger live rurally, yet I had never seen how they lived.
While working on this project, I was immersed in these rural communities for weeks. If you had told me how these people lived before I worked with Concern, I would not have believed you. I never would have thought that people could live the way they do; in the harshest conditions, surviving on one meal a day, until I saw it for myself.I came to understand the challenges they faced.
Living and working in Niger is not easy. Out in the bush people are forced to confront the extreme climate and sparse terrain. It takes an enormous effort to reach these people, but Concern doesn’t let that get in the way, it is our mission. It’s what makes me so proud to work with Concern. We push the boundaries to reach the poorest people and help them make improvements that last long after Concern has left.
After the Goat Distribution Project, I was inspired to take some time to visit my father’s village with my sister. Here I discovered that the conditions people in my father’s village lived in were very difficult, but very similar to what I’d seen through the project.
I came back to Niamey with renewed passion for my work. In my father’s village I realised that as one person, my impact was limited, but through Concern I could help change and improve the lives of many, many people.
The most surprising moment of pride however came years later. I was in a village working on another Concern project when an older woman I recognised took me by the hand. I had delivered her first goat, and because she was more frail than most, I helped her bring the goat home. Following the same path we had taken years before, she pointed to seven goats with a smile. I couldn’t believe it! Her first Concern goat had multiplied her riches.
She now maintained a small herd and sold new kids at the market. I saw for myself the lasting impact Concern had on this woman’s life. She had something for herself. Something she was in control of and owned. Something that gave her more choices and power over her life.
It’s moments like this that remind me that every day I work for Concern is a big day for the Nigerien people. Concern’s support changes lives and I am part of that. It makes me very proud.
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