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Ever since the beginning of July when the bush turned green,

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…Nature’s Pantry in the Zinder area has been providing food for free for anyone who would like to harvest.

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There’s no place I can ride to,

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without stumbling upon people out in the fields, busy harvesting valuable leafy annuals that will be consumed within the household or sold at the closest marketplace.

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I met these girls while out riding on July 5th and they were happy to show me what they were collecting.

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The millet was knee-high (it is almost three meters tall in some places as I write) and the peanut and bean plants smaller still, yet nature’s pantry was in full bloom, offering its wide selection of valuable edible annuals.

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On this day, the girls were out collecting malahiya leaves, which is widely appreciated in Niger will sell expensively at any market in this country.

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The girls thought it was fantastic that a stranger would stop and take such interest in the work they were doing,

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and were thrilled at the fact that I wanted to take pictures of it too!

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When I showed them the picture on display, they laughed out and clapped their hands. They were famous! The joy on their faces gave me such a moment that I forgot the concept of time, as well as the existance of the other riders who had gone ahead.

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The original three called out to another girl to show her malahiya harvest,

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and soon, people were coming out of the village to see what the girls’ excitement was all about.

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We talked about the various annuals in the fields (malahiya, gasaya, tcetcego, tseido, yakuwa etc) and they said there was plenty of them. I inquired about the health of their families and they told me everyone in the village was well. I did not see anybody that looked famished or apathetic – yet according to aid statistics, half the population of this country should be undergoing serious food shortage right now.

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Well that would only apply if one assumed that the population did not know how to look after itself and that the richest of nature’s pantry were a forgotten secret; yet it is not. Nature’s pantry is available to anyone who has access to the bush and who is willing to harvest. And the Zinder population is certainly willing!

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When it was time for me to go, the kids accompanied me, waving their goodbyes as they accompanied me up the hill and beyond.

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It’s amazing how every little stop in the Zinder bush can provide so much life quality, but these kids made my day!

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