A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to travel to Niger with Mercy Corps, and I wanted to send you an update on the situation people are facing there right now and the support they are receiving because of your generosity.
I spent two days visiting villages in Ouallam, a region in western Niger that was at the epicenter of the food crisis in 2012. Unfortunately, drought returned again this past fall, and the vast fields of millet, their staple crop, barely grew. It is brown and dry and empty as far as you can see. In Tolkoboye Fondobon village, the women told me that most households only have enough food to eat one meal a day until the next harvest in September.
But they were also eager to show me their new sources of hope and pride — the goats they received from Mercy Corps and the savings they have accumulated in the village savings and loans groups we helped them form. Both of these assets will allow the women to buy food in the market when they need it most this lean season. It's the first time in many of their lives that they've had the resources to help their families themselves.
These women struggle just to eat every day, but they are so strong. I spent some time with one woman named Santou. I was so happy to see that the two goats that Mercy Corps gave her over a year ago have now turned into five. Though she worries about the bad harvest, she is focused on her animals and what they can provide with her hard work — an income that is not dependent on the unpredictable rain.
That's what I saw over and over throughout my visit — communities asking for the opportunity to work hard to help themselves. And a team who is dedicated to finding the solutions that work best in these harsh conditions. I hope you will accept my sincerest thanks for your support on behalf of families in the Sahel. This is another difficult time in Niger, but without you, Mercy Corps would not be able to help families through it.
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