At the end of each trip, I ask the volunteers to let me post something they have written about their experience. Here is Sheri Hanna’s contribution…
I’ve been searching for words to describe my recent trip volunteering with the Nomad Foundation. However, it seemed that mere words couldn’t convey the experience well enough, as it was completely a sensory and emotional journey. So I closed my eyes, and let memory tell the story.
I see sunsets from the rooftop at Tamesna; the line of patients waiting at the medical clinic for care and the best medicine; the shy smiles and wide-eyed stares of young children just starting school. The stunningly beautiful faces of the nomadic women. Moringa trees, goat herds, a salt caravan with hundreds of camels; deepest dark skies filled with more stars than imaginable. Pulling water from wells in the desert, women from several settlements helping one another learn midwife skills.
The smells & tastes are heady….desert sand, tasty stews prepared by our cook, spices, pounded millet and camel’s milk, fresh arugula from the garden, bread from Agadez and Ingall. The sounds of the breeze blowing on my tent in the dunes, jackals and foxes calling in the distance. Children gleefully playing, shouting out newly learned school lessons in unison, melodic sounds of a Tuareg guitar played around a campfire.
Most of all, it is the emotional gifts this trip has given me. Experiencing first hand the newly trained matrons sharing their skills that will serve and preserve families long into the future. Seeing the gifts of health, family, education and future that Leslie and the Nomad Foundation is providing, while still embracing cultural traditions, is truly inspiring.
Overall, being a small part of the incredible work of the Nomad foundation has been more than insightful, thought provoking, humbling, life altering….and sensory overload in the most marvelous way!
Sheri’s memories take me back to my own experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger in 1967-69. It’s impossible for words to tell the whole story. Niger will always be with you — it is indeed “life altering!”
It certainly altered mine.