Saturday, December 11, 2010

There's no Christmas in Niger---just a Christmas Wish List

As December progresses and the holiday season approaches, we think of where we were last year at this time. Planning trips to visit family, shopping for gifts, attending parties and musical performances, decorating the house—all of the normal activities associated with Christmas and December.
This year in mid-December, we are in rural Niger nearing the end of our training period for the Peace Corps. If all goes well, our swearing in as official volunteers will be on December 30 with placement in our own village soon to follow. That is all very exciting and even though the training has been rough in many ways, we do not regret having the experience. We value the cultural exchange we have been able to participate in and look forward to actually starting meaningful projects in 2011.
There is, however, the longing for the holiday which is definitely not celebrated here. Our location and time have not allowed us to send Christmas cards or gifts, but we do think of what others might enjoy and then ----what might be on our wish list for Santa.
You might be surprised! The items we wish for are not what you’d expect, but they are small luxuries which would make our life in Niger a bit more comfortable.
Our Wish List
Peanut M & M’s---the only chocolate which does not melt in transit or in the heat of Niger
AAA batteries—we live with no electricity so have headlamps and flashlights which require batteries not readily available here
Hand wipes or hand sanitizer— dust, grease and disease-causing germs are rampant here
Zip Lock bags of all sizes—again, dust is prevalent, so everything we own gets dirty if not enclosed
Protein bars, granola or Luna bars—there is rare protein aside from beans in our diet. We have had meat only on very selected occasions or when eating at the Peace Corps site
Dried fruit or nuts (not candied fruit)—fresh fruit is almost non-existent in the rural bush villages
Toilet tissue or Kleenex—cheaper the better. Don’t even think of what happens when we can’t get it!
Scouring pads, brillo pads, etc— peanut oil in most rice and bean dishes leaves everything greasy .

Most of all we wish for our family and friends to have the best Christmas, holiday season, and New Year ever. We miss you, think of you and wish you health and happiness during this season of love and light. Love, Judy and Dave
If Santa reads this list, he/she should only send small packages due to the cost of mailing both in the US and in Africa. Also, packages are frequently opened and pilfered before they are delivered. Some packages do not ever arrive even though postal charges are high at the local post office in Niger.


  1. I sent my daughter a box a month, one of the USPS priority flat rate type and learned to pack it tightly. Two things that I sent that were appreciated--the non-refrigerated foil packets of salmon and chicken and solar lights like you put in your yard (lanterns, strings of lights, stick in the ground type)...oh, and cheese sauce packets. Amazing what one misses!

  2. Dave and Judy... you will be able to find toilet paper and even tissues (brand name lotus) in either niamey or dosso .... also they do sell scouring pads in the market... i forget the zarma word for it but once you spot one a good point will get your thought across good luck! i love reading your blog! - jessica "faiza" formerly from tillaberi region

  3. Dave and Judy, Welcome to Niger and congrats on your swearing in yesterday! We have lived in Niger for 3 years, if you ever need a hand finding something, let us know. You can contact us through our blog. We screen comments, so you can add your email or telephone and we won't post it. -beth