I have had lots of people ask lots of questions or make comments that require a response. So I am going to attempt to answer a few of those here....
Lets start with the basics
How long will you be gone?
I leave on September 7th and will be back on Canadian soil on the 26th. That is a total of 19 days.
How many hours of travel?
I leave here at 1755 (5:55) on the 7th, and arrive in Niamey Sept 9th at 445 (4:45 AM) Via London and Casablanca, Morocco. Sounds exotic, however I am sure that after that many hours I will be totally bagged and ready for solid ground.
What will your family do with out you?
This is not the first time they have been without me. However 7 days is the longest stint. This is slightly longer than that. I have no doubt that they will survive quite well. We are working on menu plans, they are all very capable of Laundry and dishes and the daily running of things. With a little planning I am sure things will run smoothly. A new alarm clock may be needed, but that is minor. I will miss them it is true and I hope they will miss me, however we will all survive and have stories to tell when we are together again.
How many are going with you?
No one I know first hand - but the team going consists of 7 women. I am the only one going from B.C., the rest are from Alberta. I already consider them new friends, the fact that we all have the desire to go and work with these girls gives us common ground upon which to grow strong friendships. My Grandma had a plaque that hung in her kitchen and it now hangs in mine it reads
Make new friends, But keep the old
For one is Silver the other Gold.
I have found this to be very true through all aspects of life, especially with things like this.
Are you nervous to travel alone all that way?
Knowing that there will be a familiar face at the end of the journey helps tons. However this is not the first time I have travelled alone, I love all aspects of it, the anticipation, flying, even sitting at airports. Airports are the very best place to people watch, well that and the P.N.E. The first time I headed out alone, I was 17 and heading to Australia. (that is a story for another time). For the most part I am not worried about the getting there or the coming home, when there is only myself to be concerned with it is fairly easy.
I will only be alone for a short time. The travel agent told me yesterday that I arrive in London 2 hours before some of the girls from Alberta, then from there we will all be on the same flights through to Niger. I will not be alone in any of the new unfamiliar airports. Which means I will not have to eat alone on the lay overs. That is always a plus.
One sweet soul at church told me I am so brave and that she could never do that. My response to her was, it is all part of the adventure, to which she responded - "still, your either crazy or brave, I am going with brave." Bless her heart. However I think most would side with crazy.
How are you funding this?
For the most part this is an out of pocket expense. I am grateful for work over the summer months that has certainly helped in this. I have been working on a few items to sell where the profits will go directly to the school (I am hoping to have some photos up very soon of these items). In addition to that I am very grateful for supportive friends and family members, who see the need to educate young women to break the cycle of early marriage, who trust me and have given funds directly to me in order to make this possible. For those who have specifically asked, if you would like to donate, please send gifts directly to me. Words can not express adequately how thankful I am, it is a humbling experience to have people give in this way. I will ever be grateful.
What sorts of things are you going to take with you for the girls at the school?
I have asked that question to Chantelle
What sort of things are you worried about?
I am not one to worry much. However I am concerned about the heat. For the most part I do not do well in the heat, heat stroke is a strong possibility, but knowing this and being prepared - drinking lots of water will be key. I have to trust that I will survive. I am praying that my body will adjust and that there will not be too many issues.
There is the aspect of unknown cultural differences that will be a challenge. One that I know of is that being left handed I will be challenged when eating with the locals. In Africa the left hand is considered the 'dirty hand' and when sharing a communal plate it is VERY offensive to eat with your left hand.... YIKES, 45+ years of eating with my left I could be in trouble. I will be sitting on my hand with someone sitting next to me to give me a good elbow, hopefully this will work. The last thing I want to do is offend someone because I am ignorant.
Language will be an issue, they speak French and a variety of tribal languages. Let's just say my French is limited and leave it at that. I am sure I will be very grateful for those who are gifted translators. It will be interesting to see how much I pick up in 3 weeks.
One thing I know for sure is this will be an experience I will never forget, and there will be amazing stories to tell along the way.