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What would you do with a goat?
For many people in America, goats are pets or a part of their hobby farm. Some Americans do use goats for their livelihood. But if you lived in Niger, a goat would be a precious commodity. Imagine! Goats are special, important, and valuable.
The Wildlife and Habitat of Niger
In the West African country of Niger, in the village of Guidan Gado, poor families, widows and young girls are eager for goats of their own. Red goats reproduce quickly–baby goats can be sold and goat’s milk is a nutritional food source. That’s important because life in Guidan Gado is very hard and the people in this village need these animals (and the other animals brought by Samaritan’s Purse) to survive. Let me tell you why.
A landlocked country in western Africa, Niger is almost completely covered by desert land. Both the Sahara desert and the Tenere Desert take up more than three-fourths of the country. That’s a lot of desert! One of the animals you might find in the semi-desert areas of the Sahara is the dama gazelle, a national symbol of Niger. Unfortunately, dama gazelles are critically endangered due to over-hunting and habitat loss.
In the middle of desert Niger lie the Air Mountains. Temperatures are cooler, and some water does collect here which does allow for a small amount of farming. There is a large animal reserve here which encloses the eastern half of the Air Mountains and a western section of the Tenere desert. In the protection of the reserve, you will find a dwindling population of ostriches and the Addax – a critically endangered species of antelope. Did you know there were ostriches in the African desert?
The southern part of Niger lies in the Sahel–a semi-arid, mostly savannah region that runs across Africa. Africa’s largest reserve is located in Niger–part of it lies in the Sahel, and part of it lies in the desert. Because of the combination of grassland, desert and mountain climates you will find animals like antelopes, Barbary sheep, striped hyenas, and the dama gazelles. Did you know there’s a kind of tortoise that lives in the desert? You can also find the African spurred tortoise here.
At the very bottom of Niger, in the southwestern corner, is the lushest land in Niger– alongside the Niger River. This area is also a huge national park. Many different and very familiar African animals live here. You will see African elephants, African buffaloes, leopards, lions, hippos, pythons, monkeys and the endangered Nigerian Giraffe. Because the river runs through here you will also find many different species of birds and fish. They say over 450 species of birds live here!
There is one more animal you will find in Niger that you might be familiar with. Do you remember The Song of the Cebu? Did you know that a Cebu, actually a Zebu, is a real animal? It’s a breed of cow from Asia that was brought to Africa a long time ago.
Ok, remember those goats? With all of these animals in Niger, why do the people in Guidan Gado need goats? For one thing, a very small portion of Niger is lush from the Niger river, but most of Niger is very dry and harsh. Outside of the reserves and parks, wildlife is more scarce. Also, Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world.
Guidan Gado lies in southern Niger where the climate is very hot and only receives rain about 3 months a year. If they don’t get enough rain, their crops and their livestock can die, and they won’t have enough to eat or a way to plant crops and raise livestock next year. Samaritan’s Purse wants to help Guidan Gado by digging a deeper well, bringing in livestock such as sheep and goats, and planting crops. With our help, Samaritan’s Purse can make life better for the people of Guidan Gado. A goat may seem like a small thing to you and me, but a goat to a family in Niger is a very big thing indeed!
Samaritan’s Purse – Raise a Village
The Samaritan’s Purse “Raise a Village” campaign is raising money to raise the village of Guidan Gado up out of poverty. More than simply sending food, or even animals, Samaritan’s Purse will bring combined resources to Guidan Gado to make it possible for the village to continue to sustain itself. More than that, Samaritan’s Purse will bring the Hope – through the gospel and love of Christ.
As a part of the effort to raise awareness, the Samaritan’s Purse Bloggers team has joined together to create a “unit study” of sorts to bring to you the country and the people of Niger. From the food and the culture to the music and the river life, you can visit each member of the team to get another piece of the study.
I wanted to introduce you to the wildlife and habitat of Niger, and I hope you enjoyed our little “safari” through the land. You may have noticed that the first portion of this blog post was written in a way that you could read it directly to your children if you choose. At the end of this you will also find a list of resources to take this even farther, as well as links to the other bloggers on the team. Before I share those, I want to share a little bit more about Samaritan’s Purse and the people of Guidan Gado.
Teams from Samaritan’s Purse International Headquarters recently visited the country office in Niger to document the needs of the Nigerien people. Sixty-five percent of Niger’s population lives on less than $1.25 per day and forty-three percent of children suffer from chronic malnutrition. Last week, Samaritan’s Purse launched a campaign to raise $85,000 to implement projects that will directly improve livestock and food production, increase household income, and expand access to clean water.
From Samaritan’s Purse:
2.6 billion people around the world depend on animals and agriculture for their livelihoods. In Niger, a person’s wealth is directly tied to their animals. The people of Guidan Gado want to participate with us; they want us to teach them so they can work hard and support their families. When we can implement our animals and agriculture programs, we’re able to help the people have means to stay and survive in their home village and to provide for their families.
Meet the people of Guidan Gado:
God is Good
Only TWO DAYS after launching the campaign, donations surpassed the goal set by Samaritan’s Purse. Everything being donated at this point is still going to the people of Guidan Gado and the immediate surrounding areas that come to Guidan Gado for water and education. Thanks to the outpouring of love, we will be able to raise this village out of poverty! If you would like to give, donations are being accepted through July 19th.
The thing I love most about Samaritan’s Purse is that they take the love of Jesus all over the world. They provide disaster relief in and outside of the U.S., they have a Medical Mission project, they have their well known Operation Christmas Child project — and everything they do and everywhere they go, they share the gospel of Christ. The Raise a Village Campaign is only one more way that Samaritan’s Purse seeks to meet the needs of the physically and spiritually hungry around the world.
Niger Resource Links
Using the first portion of this blog post (the part above the ~~~ divider) and the resources below, you can share the country, wildlife and habitat with your children.
- Wildlife of Niger
- Dama (Adra) Gazelle
- Geography & Wildlife (make sure you check out the interactive map.)
- Ostrich coloring page
- Lion coloring page
- African Elephant coloring page
- Addax coloring page
- Other animal coloring pages (giraffe, cheetah, hippos, etc.)
- A very interesting blog post, with lots of pictures, about zebu in Niger
- The Zebu
- Maps of Africa and Niger
- The Sahel, the Sahara, the Tenere
- Biomes – the desert and the savannah
- African animal word search (not exclusive to Niger)
- Outline map of Niger
I have also created a youtube playlist of videos to go along with this! You can find it here.
To visit the other Samaritan’s Purse Bloggers and pick up their “pieces” of the “unit study,” here’s a handy list of links:
In support of the Raise a Village campaign, I am part of a team of homeschool educators who are partnering with Samaritan’s Purse to bring you an educational unit study of Niger.
(Amber from Classic Housewife)
Amy from Milk and Cookies
Carlie from Beautiful Motherhood
Erica from Confessions of a Homeschooler
Jennifer from Mama Jenn
Jimmie from Jimmie’s Collage
Jolanthe from Homeschool Creations
Mary from Homegrown Learners
Maureen from Spell Outloud
Thank you for following along on this little virtual safari. Though the wildlife and habit of Niger is very fascinating, it’s not my intention to diminish from the very real plight of the people of Niger in any way. It’s my hope that while studying the country of Niger, we can raise awareness for their very real needs – not only in regard to basic needs such as food and water, but also for a Savior. If you can’t give financially, you can help spread awareness, and you can pray for these people and the teams that will be going over to do the work in the coming months.
If you made it this far, won’t you please leave a comment and tell me something interesting? Have you ever been to Africa? Have you worked with Samaritan’s Purse, are you familiar with any of their programs? In what ways does your family support missions (domestic or international?) What most touched your heart about our Niger study today?