May 8, 2004: Headlines: COS - Niger: PCVs in the Field - Niger: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Leigh Josey in Niger

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Niger: Peace Corps Niger : The Peace Corps in Niger: May 8, 2004: Headlines: COS - Niger: PCVs in the Field - Niger: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Leigh Josey in Niger

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, May 09, 2004 - 5:27 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps Volunteer Leigh Josey in Niger

Peace Corps Volunteer Leigh Josey in Niger

Peace Corps Volunteer Leigh Josey in Niger

Hi, my name is Leigh Josey and this is my website to document my experiences.

I am officially a Peace Corps Volunteer in Republic of Niger where I will be teaching agriculture. Niger is located sort of northwest of central if you were to draw an axis across the continent of Africa. I have received my training and have been sworn in now. I am living in a small village and am part of a cluster of volunteers working on many related projects. My main focuses will be sustainable agriculture through things like improved soil conservation and crop rotation. I will teach the locals about tree nurseries, seed saving and crop varieties. Also, I am supposed to encourage improvements in general nutrition through changes in food selection, preservation and market access.

This will all be very difficult as Niger is located two-thirds in the Sahara Desert. Temperatures range from 90-120 degrees, and there is precious little rainfall. I read somewhere that Niger is approximately twice the size of Texas and yet has only 4% arable land, i.e. land good for growing food on. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, but its people are said to be warm and welcoming.

There is a lot more information about Niger on the Peace Corps website, or even if you do a google search about Niger. Please wish me luck as I embark on an adventure unlike anything I have ever done! I will be gone for twenty-six months, living without running water or electricity or comfortable mail access, so if you have questions about how to contact me please email my mom-- she's the one who set up this website for me.

Excerpts from letters:

"This is a great assignment.All below us are fertile irrigated gardens and farming plots. ...people here are fairly nice...there are 3 markets very close by. I am 2K off the road, and cars are always coming by, so I can easily get a bush taxi. The second best hospital in Niger is located 6K from here and there are western doctors there. ..I like my team mates..They are a couple named Dave and Dawn and I am really glad to be posted near them." letter 2/19/04

Letters week of Mar 14, 2004:
"The villagers were all so welcoming and friendly, and smiling at me; and listening intently and respectfully, at all that Ansmane said on my behalf. (he's with Peace Corps and came to install me). .. You will be glad to know that even before I unpacked, I prayed about my being here, my 2 years of service, my dwelling and my health etc. When we first pulled into the village, we heard some children yellng "Leila" (Leigh in Arabic or Hausa?) as we drove by! It made me feel so welcomed--especially since they have had a hard time w/my name. So if even the little kids know about me, they must have been talking about me coming. ..they were all so friendly --smiling and happy, and patient with me. I felt tonight in the first 30 minutes I was out, that they must just have open minds and open hearts about me, and were genuinely pleased to see me and hear me. It was such a relief! Everywhere I walked people would call out to me, and ask if I was "in health", how my evening was, where I was going? But it wasn't an interrogation, just friendly curiosity. ..Tomorrow, I go to see the Village Chief. I have so much to figure out and so much to learn, but I am really thrilled!..I didn't sleep much last night, but I could not have asked for a stressful situation to go any better...I know this is going to be a challenging adjustment, but when I was walking tonight, I was just overwhelmed and excited by all my surroundings. The dirt is beautiful rusty color and the rocks are black and volcanic looking and plentiful.Where the mullet stalks and straw lay, there is they buttery yellow color and lots of twisty trees with a subdued green color--almost grape leaf colored.There are friendly curious women and children walking everywhere. I passed a man with a load of hay on his head, that we would have put into a pickup truck at home! The road down to the well is lined with these green bushes that have purple flowers blooming on them. I have only seen flowering anything a handful of times in Niger, but here a whole path full just outside of town and sometimes it seems they even smell good! And if you look beyond them, you can see the green gardens where the men work.They work SO HARD here, you wouldn't believe it. In general, year round everyone agrees that the women here work their tushies off..During farm/garden season they are pulling water bucket by bucket to water whole fields and tilling and picking from hard pan soil all by hand! Being so close to Nigeria, lots of the men go to Exode, which is when they leave to go work and send money back.This exodus has such widespread implications --the whole functioning of an agrarian society w/o real infrastructure etc is such an education. "

"I've been feeling a lot lately like I am amazed that I'm here! That I am allowed to do this. I felt so lucky and so blessed, even when I am hot and irritable and nervous. I feel I am stretching and challenging myself in a most delicious way at least 50% of the time, like itchy new skin growing under a scab. I guess that's gross, but it does seem like I am growing new in all parts of myself. Niger is great too because these people are so humble and so grateful. Eight hours of moderate work and we come home and complain, but here it is back-breaking work from dawn to dusk, and if you ask them about their work, they reply, "I'm grateful, grateful to be healthy enough to work, to have a task, to have land or tools, or the bucket they need to pull the water. It is an amazing perspective! I feel jumpy just imagining all that I will learn here.

I have heard of deaths now too. Our driver's 13 years old daughter died last month. He seems to feel very deeply and yet he is still smiling and joking and helpful and reassuring. And working for Peace Corps. He is probably one of the more well off people--someone who could afford medicine. She apparently got ill really fast, and was gone really fast! Also, in Hamdallaye there was a baby born across the street. I went with my "mom" to see her because my "mom" is a health clinic worker. It was the smallest baby I have ever seen, Mama. She had a neck like a turkey with all the skin loose, and her whole head was slightly bigger than my fist. She was a couple of months premature. Anyway, she died 2 days later because she was too weak to nurse. No one told me. I asked after her the next day and my "mom" said, "she's gone" "she's dead yesterday. Couldn't suck"and that was that. I was really sad! Thinking about it. It will be a hard 2 years in this sense.But so much potential to do good."

"I learned two weeks ago to make tofu. It could be a nutritional and income-generating revolution here. Women make it in 2-3 hours; they can buy soy beans for 200 CFA (about 30cents) and sell the tofu for 2000 CFA! Plus so many of the problems here are vitamin, oil and protein deficiency related. Tofu has as much protein as meat almost and they already grow beans/cow peas in some places. (mother/typist note: I am unsure of a few words, her writing has always been difficult and nearly illegible when she is in hurry or tired, so bear with me if a sentence does not quite make sense--a fragment: ) soy beans so it is totally sustainable. The most expensive thing required to make the tofu is a headscarf and every African woman has one--they would be shamed without one. So that is something i am excited about and my village women really want to learn it. As they say in Niger, they "have lots of effort".

"Oh yeah, there is another great thing.Whenever you understand something, they say "hakenan" (could be hakeman or halcenan) ="that's it" . I got a veritible shower of blessings from Allah in the last 2 days: "May God keep you in health and happiness and help you live here with us, and may God give you good patience and luck" on and on. You reply to these with "amin, in shah Allah" (if God wills it) ."

"Well, I think I am pooped from writing now. I love you Mama! Please share these letters with everyone. You could put it on the website maybe? Please send Jen a copy and I will write her too. IT is hard to send everyone the same letter. Take care of yourself and tell Dana (my husband, but not Leigh's dad) hello for me. May God give you peace of mind and spirit... "

"PS I am also starting to work on my enormous reading list after long years of having no time to read for pleasure."

"PPS Did I tell you I had a good time dancing at the swearing-in party ( I think she is referring to the one at the US Ambassador's house, but not sure about this) that I got blisters on my toes? I danced all night, and it felt great!"

(Mother's note again, Obviously I have left out the very personal parts but I hope you all, Friends and Family of Peace Corps volunteers enjoy these letters as much as I do. Please pray that they continue and if God wills it, I will type them out for all of us.)

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Niger; PCVs in the Field - Niger



By lawo ( on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 3:50 pm: Edit Post

am looking for a friend of mine who was in Ouallam/Niger in 2001/2002 as pcv her name is Dolora.
maybe u can help me.

By Anonymous ( - on Saturday, March 11, 2006 - 4:37 pm: Edit Post

Looking for Leigh Josey. It is Saturday. I hope she will be patient on Sunday, since I am in Tangier still.

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