As we grow older, I feel that many things change, and that life throws more at us, tests us more frequently. Over my 15 months in Niger, I have been tested more than I could have ever imagined, from Terrorist groups threatening to kidnap ex-patriots in Niger, to family emergencies that I could not be present for. With the help of family and friends support and guidance, I have had the ability to overcome and conquer these tests that life has thrown my way, and I am proud to say that I have met these challenges with ultimate success. It was my Peace Corps Niger family that came together to help overcome what is by far the biggest challenge we have faced as an organization since my time here.
Last week, a newly sworn in volunteer named Stephanie, passed away in her home in the Eastern Region of Zinder, after only having maybe two weeks in her ville after training. This had a very powerful affect, as you could well imagine, on all of the volunteers in Peace Corps Niger. We are a family here, there are those who were greatly affected who had never even met this fantastic girl, because there are so few of us, we must be a family for each other in order to overcome the many challenges that Peace Corps in Niger present on a regular basis.
I feel very fortunate in the fact that I did have the opportunity to spend a short 2 weeks with Stephanie. She came to Niger to volunteer in Peace Corps from working as an accountant, probably living the lifestyle of one as well, and she gave that up to work with and support and better the country of Niger and its people. She was amazingly funny, and could brighten a room with her smile. I remember helping her to buy fabric to have a shirt made, that she really wanted, she just had to have it, and I spent like thirty minutes with her bargaining with this guy just trying to rip off a couple of ex-pats in Niger. She gave all the Niger staff American names, with whom she had developed very close relationships, and who were all greatly affected by her passing on as well. Needless to say, she stood out amongst her stage(the group of people you come to Niger with) mates, whom I know have been very deeply affected by this incident and I can’t begin to imagine the pain that they are experiencing.
Stephanie, you will be truly missed, know that you touched many people with your personality and your smile while you were on this earth. I’d like to share a quote that she kept on her blog…”I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now.” Stephanie lived this quote in her life everyday. May we all hope to do the same. Allah Ya Jikinta. (May god watch over her as she passes on)
Take Care of yourselves and each other – Ousmane