Floods in Niger displace 200,000

Mission Network News – 9/13/2010

Niger (MNN) — Niger has been brought to her knees.

Already stricken by a severe food shortage and a prolonged drought, the people are now dealing with too much rain. Unusually heavy rains resulted in flooding which has displaced more than 200,000 people.

In Niamey, the River Niger reached its highest level in more than 80 years.

Before the floods, drought was blamed for crop failure and livestock deaths. 100,000 of the remaining cattle died in the flooding. Much-needed crops were swept away just two months before harvest.

Roads washed out, too, hindering the delivery of shelter materials, blankets, food, and mosquito netting. In the aftermath, there are also growing concerns over the spread of malaria and waterborne diseases.

In the midst of this sits CURE International, now two years in the country, with a freshly completed hospital and a budding outreach. Their facility in Niamey is set to open in October 2010. It will be the only one of its kind in the country, offering specialty surgical care for children with orthopedic conditions.

CURE Niger’s Leron Lehman says the disasters haven’t physically threatened the building, but their outreach is affected. “All of the issues surrounding malnutrition and now the flooding: they all serve to weaken the general health of the population, the infrastructure; and so, in that sense, we’re clearly directly impacted in a big way because the population we serve is impacted.”

It could be argued that this is a grim backdrop against which to launch a ministry. But Lehman has a different view. “With such disasters, it’s easy to attract a little bit more attention and therefore some more aid, and some more problems are being addressed. However, it does add pretty significantly to the challenging environment…which is already challenging, based on the extreme poverty that’s here, lack of health care, lack of resources, and lack of education.”

CURE’s focus is transformation. And healing a child changes a family. At CURE, parents of children with disabilities, who are burdened with feelings of guilt and shame, find healing and hope through God’s love. Lehman explains that comes out in everything the staff undertakes with a patient and the family. “We’re here, and we’re motivated because of our faith; we’re using that as our motivation to come to this country and to live out the system. So when we meet people in their moment of need, and they understand our motivation, it really gives us an opportunity.”

The new hospital will also provide training programs for national doctors and nurses. The 24-bed hospital expects to perform 1,000 surgeries in its first year. There are still a lot of ways you can help. Click here.

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Mission Network News

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