Fati and I met one February morning in 2005 as I was walking to CARE’s office in Niamey, Niger’s capital.
She and her cousin, Ouma, stepped out in front of me from a sandy path. They looked back, giggled, and called me towards them. How could I resist chatting with these gorgeous young women, that, from underneath their scarves, emanated joy and beauty, and aroused my curiosity?
With their laughter and broken French, they drew me to their millet-stalk huts at the back of a large schoolyard. Children played doing summersaults and headstands, as Fati’s sister milked a skinny goat into a large decorated wooden bowl. I had never seen such poverty in Niamey. No electricity; no running water; nothing. Just smiles and laughter. I could not have been better received and honored as a guest.
They drew me into one of their small huts to meet the men, chat and serve me their traditional three rounds of Tuareg tea: the first, “bitter like death”, the second “sweet as love”, and the third, “good like life”. photo: Fati