|A Tuareg woman uses a knife to create a pattern in a piece of leather as part of a ministry by missionaries Warren and Sharon Hessling called “Sahel Hope” to equip the West African Tuareg with practical job skills. |
NIGER, West Africa (BP)--In Niger’s desert sands, the Tuareg people still live in the nomadic lifestyle of their ancestors, still survive where water and food are increasingly scarce, and still practice the Islamic faith passed down to them. But, with their way of life progressively threatened each day, the Tuareg now search for hope.
The Tuareg have long lived off the land they don’t own, possessing it only as long as they live on it. Years of drought have killed their animals and left them wondering how much longer they can survive without seeking jobs in the city.
“The way of life that is historically [Tuareg] doesn’t look like it will exist another decade,” says Warren Hessling, who along with his wife Sharon serve as strategy coordinators for the Tuareg people.
|Missionary Warren Hessling shares with a young Tuareg man in Niamey, Niger. As an International Mission Board strategy coordinator, Warren helps direct the outreach to the Tuareg. |
Sharon recalls how a woman in a Tuareg village said she feared her family would “die out here like camels” if they didn’t get more food. Many Tuareg already have journeyed to cities to find work, but their shepherding trade doesn’t translate into city life. Their city jobs usually are guardians for other people’s homes.
Warren estimates roughly 10 percent of city Tuareg are actually employed, adding to their burden of taking care of the extended family. Even in the city, Tuareg remain nomadic -– moving about every two years, but never owning the land. They remain largely poor. Read More