We should be out at Tamesna, well into our earth-bag building project, with foundations laid, 20 nomads participating in the construction of the dormitories and new teacher’s residence for the boarding school. We should be awaiting the arrival of 20 new mid-wife trainees and the 4 previously trained matrons who were to conduct the training with oversight by Dr. Bob and Achicha, who have conducted the last 5 trainings. We were to be turning the future trainings over to them and the new major (nurse practitioner) at the Tamesna clinic. We would be preparing for our festival to present this and many more programs available at Tamesna to a group of over 1,000 nomads and many government officials including the highest elected official in the north: the president of the regional council of Agadez, the sultan of Agadez, the director of USAID in Niger and up to 15 other important invitees, including national television. Well, the “narcoterrorists” (these being in it for the money rather than the ideology) and the governor of Agadez had other ideas: the French have been having some success against them (not the governor) and a repraisal was feared. We just finished an eventful trip with three photographers who saw a full range of nomadic festivals and documented them with three different artistic visions. (when they are ready I will send you to their websites) The governor had given us some trouble with this, but after several days of painful negotiations and more money–we were allowed to leave Agadez. Not so for our project trip: the governor refused us our security team. I will never know whether the threat was that severe, or that the governor was just being his usual difficult self, but I do know that I had to inform all eight of our glorious volunteers that we had to postpone the program.
So the good news now is that the trip has been rescheduled for February and all but two of the volunteers will be coming–we have rebooked all the tickets. Even better news: the governor of Agadez has been removed from office after too many complaints from the populace because of his “difficult” behavior. So now we hope for a friend in office. It will be another military man, but we hope one who has just a tiny bit of the interest of his population in mind.
Sidi and I decided that we could not cancel the festival after so many nomads had committed, so he spoke to our old friend Mohamed Anacko (the president of the regional council of Agadez) who will let me go with him and use his security.
So stay tuned to see our festival preparations…