Homestay Info

During training, Peace Corps Volunteers in Niger stay with host families that generally speak the language they will use during their service. As I have mentioned, I am in a little village of Barchawal, staying with the Hamidou family.

My host father has two wives. Niger is about 95% Muslim, and according to Islamic law, a man can have as many wives as he can afford to treat equally. He works in Niamey (the capital) and sells pagnes (women’s skirts), and I think that either his father or his uncle is the chief of the village. Therefore, he is relatively wealthy for the village. He’s a really nice man who laughs a lot and rides his motorcycle into work every day.

His second wife is 19, they’ve only been married about 5 or 6 months, she has her own concession inside the compound. I don’t really interact with her too much, but she does eat with us. In Niger, men and women always eat seperately, the family never eats all together.

His first wife is the one I consider my host mother – she is 33. She is really smart with a good sense of humor and I am pretty sure that she can read, which is rare for women. Her brother actually went to school in Pennsylvania and speaks fluent English – he visited us the other day and it was nice to talk to a non-PCV in English. My host mother has four children – a boy, 5 months; another boy, 3; another boy, 9; and the eldest is a girl, 13. The baby is ADORABLE, I love to hold him and play with him. He usually doesn’t wear anything, except when it gets down to about 90 and then they put him in a little hat and snow pants. The 3 year old is warming up to me as well, he loves to play with his dad’s motorcycle. I’ve never met the 9 year old boy, he is a student in Niamey and doesn’t live at home. My favorite is the eldest sister – she has such a wonderful personality and is one of the smartest girls I’ve ever met. She also goes to school in Niamey and speaks Zarma, French, and even a little English. She’s been super helpful for communicating with the family because I speak a little French as well. They are really committed to us learning the language and are super patient. She loves to dance and sometimes I sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to her at night – the stars here are super bright and beautiful. My roommate has iPod speakers and we have dance parties sometimes – my host sister loves Shakira and Beyonce. She hopes to go to college in America and be a doctor.

Generally, they are really a great family to be a part of, I’m glad I was placed with them.

Hamburgers today were pretty good. I got fries and a milkshake too! On the way out, I bought a bunch of pastries to share with my host family. I wanted to go to the grocery market and get some food, but they close inexplicably from 12:30 – 4pm everyday. I guess I’ll have to wait until we’re back here again, I think we’re coming again next weekend but maybe not.

Some other highlights from training have been that we had a really interesting session on Islam the other day – it is a really interesting religion and an integral part of life here. Also last week we got to meet the acting US Ambassador to Niger. He was a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) from the Phillipines. I got to speak with him at lunch and he had some great stories. I think when we have our swearing in ceremony in September it will be at his house.

Have to go now – we are going to take the bus back to our homes. I’ll update again soon, probably next week. If you have questions you can leave them in the comments and I’ll answer in my next update! Bye for now.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tina
    Jul 27, 2010 @ 10:11:38

    Hey Jess, these blogs are awesome! I’m at the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens! lol I can’t wait to read more. Have fun, be safe, and keep us updated 🙂 I’ll be praying for your safety.

    Reply

  2. Reba
    Jul 27, 2010 @ 21:34:42

    I agree. I am fascinated to read your blogs. I particularly love the cultural aspects of this. Moss you girl.

    Reply

  3. Mom
    Jul 28, 2010 @ 12:53:53

    Hey Jess!
    Glad you’re having such a great experience. Sounds like you’re learning a lot and missing some of things that are so easily taken advantage of here in the US. Miss you and think of you often. Take care, be safe. I have your peace corp picture with all the volunteers on my desktop. Keep writing in the blogs. They are very informative and interesting. Love, Mom

    Reply

  4. Christina
    Aug 13, 2010 @ 12:23:28

    Jessica!

    Wow! This is such an amazing experience for you!! I have just caught up and read all your blogs! I am so happy and proud of you! You are much braver then I would ever be and it is simply amazing at how different things are over there! I wish you the best of luck and am excited to see how your journey pans out! =)
    -Christina
    TFJ
    LITBOS

    Reply

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