Because of the recent security situation (during the fall, five West African aid workers were kidnapped in Dakoro some three hours drive west from the city where I live, and during spring, a French family was kidnapped in Cameroon close to the northern Nigerian border), I have not been able to make it into the field as much as I would have wanted to. But finally, I was able to enjoy a 24 hour stay in Edenland which gave me so much joy.
Because it had been a while,
I had a lot of greetings to catch up on!
Greetings are important in Niger,
…where time does not equal money, but instead friendship and compassion.
It was a precious visit.
We visited a number of households,
We talked about their recent Eden harvests.
During the past year, the Eden trees had provided well.
The farmers showed us their Eden food – former famine food that used to be their stable food but lost its status with colonization, which is now being reinstated into their local food culture again.
We tried their hanza porridge (made of boscia senegelensis seeds) and it was delicious!
We walked past their growing herds of goats – their financial capital;
…and saw the women’s accumulated wealth inside the houses.
We met with their visitors,
…we drank tea together,
…but above all, we just “were”.
It was a very precious stay.
You see, when you spend your days in an office and deal with data and numbers and practical issues most the time, the problems and solutions that you face can seem overwhelming at times. But once you head into the field, you are reminded of what it’s all about. It’s about people gaining a dignified sustainable life through drought-tolerant trees and bushes, that give food even in times of need. It’s as simple as that.
So I come back from the field; grateful, touched and with renewed energy. Grateful to the Eden girls who held my hand. Touched by the generosity and warmth of the Eden population. And with renewed energy, knowing that no matter what technicalities may await at the office, Eden’s work takes place every day, all year round, and I am grateful to be part of it.
You can be part of it too!