Harmony During a Famine
The day before we went to a village to investigate the famine, a friend in China heard the news of the famine in Niger on TV and called to check in on me. When I told him that we were having a non-site inspection the second day, he screamed and urged me not to go, worrying that things would be out of control and that the hungry indigenous people there would devour us as food. His words made me smile.
The Nigeriens are the pickiest people I have ever seen in terms of food. Their crops are mainly millets and sorghums. The vegetables in their diets are common things like potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, etc. Their diet is fixed and monotonous, and they will only eat foods that have been tried by their forefathers or foods generally recognized locally. Foods they have not eaten before or have not seen other people eat before, they don’t even want to give a try. We planted many Chinese vegetables at the medical team’s yard. Later when we brought some harvest to the locals, they wouldn’t eat it. Once, we brought a plate of stir- fried loofah to Udi, a local guard working with us. Udi put a piece in his mouth, frowned and couldn’t swallow it no matter how hard he tried. Eventually he had to spit it out and told us apologetically that he was not used to the taste. Having seen their father dislike it, his children