When you move into a neighborhood, how do you meet people? Perhaps your neighbors stop over and introduce themselves to you…even bringing you a plate of cookies and welcoming you to the neighborhood. Or maybe you take a walk down the street and meet people who are out working in their yard.
Well, here in Niamey we met our neighbors through a little girl named Umi. One morning I was on our porch reading, when the door to our compound (yard) opened up and a little 2 year old girl walked in. I looked up and waited for her mom or an older sibling to follow her in. But there was no one else. The little girl walked in like she owned the place and started to look around. I went to the door and looked both ways down the street and saw no one. What was this little girl doing here and where did she come from? I started to talk to her in Zarma…Where’s your mom? What are you doing? What do you want?, but she was not answering me. Finally, I asked what is your name? and she answered, “Umi”.
|This is Umi…the girl who started it all.|
I didn’t want her mom to worry about her, so I told her she needed to go home and I sent her out of our compound. As she began to walk away I decided I better follow her and make sure she got home safely. She had to cross the road and … after all she’s only 2. Her home was not far and she knew right where to go. I followed her into her compound, up some stairs, and to her door. I called out “fofo” (hello) to see if anyone was home.
A woman came to the doorway and we greeted each other. She invited me in and I explained what happened. She told me she was washing and so she didn’t know Umi had left, but she also wasn’t too concerned. She also has two other daughters and I told her they could come and play with my girls if they wanted to. That same day after school Umi and one of her sisters came over and had a lot of fun playing with Camryn, Jordan, and Lauren. Since then I have also been over to talk with Umi’s mom (Hadiza) twice and she has visited me once. Also, the three sisters (and some of their friends) have come over many times to play with our girls. I am grateful that little Umi wandered over to our house so that we were able to make this connection with these neighbors.
|Jordan, Maymouna (Umi's sister), and Camryn|
|Camryn playing with Umi|
|Playing in our compound|
|Maymouna, Umi, and Camryn…sitting on Mary our tortoise|