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Final words from Niger

Andrew Santos

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

For Kris Dmytrenko, David LeRoss and I, tonight marks our final evening here in Niger. Since July 23, we've been on the ground working alongside Canada's Development and Peace, as well as Caritas Niger, known locally as Caritas Développement Niger (CADEV Niger).
CADEV works in partnership with a number of national and international humanitarian organizations to support the poor and needy in Niger. For example, their main projects focus on emergency assistance, rehabilitation and development, provision of medicines, capacity-development and technical support.
We have certainly been busy since our first day here. All in all, we had the chance to meet with His Grace, Archbishop Michel Cartateguy of Niamey, Bishop Ambroise Ouédraogo of Maradi, as well as the Secretary General of CADEV, Mr. Raymond Yoro.
Our team travelled far and wide throughout the country. We had the opportunity to spend a day in a Malian refugee camp in Ayorou, witness live distribution of food, interview countless beneficiaries and film the Nigerien landscape. Last but not least, we spoke with local experts about the on-going food crisis that continues to plague the people and country as a whole. We would have loved to provide you with a snap-shot of our work, however, it has been a huge struggle to upload videos here with the very slow and limited internet connection there is. Wait for us to return home!
As we take a step back and reflect upon these blessed days, I can tell you that this entire experience has been completely overwhelming for our team - from a professional, spiritual and emotional standpoint. Niger has definitely made us step back and pause to reflect upon who we are as Catholics and how we see the rest of the world from a Westernized standpoint. In the many people that we've met and spoken to, one common theme stands out the most - we, as Catholic Christians, are strengthened and nourished in Jesus' call to be his hands and feet today. We must continue to take an active-stand and live out the Church's call to be pro-life: to witness to the sanctity of life by caring for those brothers and sisters who face the evils of abortion, but in this case, malnourishment, extreme poverty, death, religious persecution and social discrimination. That is at the heart of our Catholic-Christian faith. To be pro-life. In our time spent here, we have seen the incredible pro-life work that Caritas and Development and Peace do here in Niger and across the world.
All in all, this has been the most profound and uplifting experience ever - one I wouldn't trade for any other moment in this life.
On behalf of the team in Niger, we thank our partners at Development & Peace (most especially Kelly Di Domanico who joined us from Canada) for their professionalism and continued friendship. We are also grateful to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Caritas Niger. They have been our trusted friends since the very beginning of this mission.
Salt + Light looks forward to bringing you another prized documentary in the future. Look to our network for full details in the near future.
In the meantime, night has fallen upon Niamey, Niger's capital. For all of us here, have a blessed night.
See you soon Canada.

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