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Beyond the Classroom: Starting a New Library in Niger

While many TeachBeyond Members go overseas to teach in schools, their work is not limited to the classroom. Whenever moving into a new country or city, members become part of that community. We are called to love our neighbors, and that love is reflected in ways that we serve the people around us. For some members of Beyond Borders, this idea of service has taken the form of libraries serving the refugees in Niger.
David and Carmen Gunderson first moved to Niger in 2006 to teach at Sahel Academy, which they learned about after another teacher shared her experiences in a prayer meeting. Now, the Gundersons are project leads for Beyond Borders Niger, and they teach in the city of Niamey among the refugee community. Most of the refugees that the Gundersons serve had left their home countries due to genocide or civil war. Most went North to Libya with the hope of crossing the Mediterranean and getting into Europe, but instead, they are waiting in Niger for resettlement. Some of these students have been waiting in Niger for over three years; others have left their home countries as far back as 2003. As a result, many of these students are discouraged or angry, and it is ministries like the Gundersons that helps bring some comfort to these students.
When asked about the initiative to create libraries, Carmen said “a library provides a peaceful place to enjoy the pleasure of a book.” While it has taken time to get access to a space, as well as the resources needed to fill the library, this project provides both education and entertainment opportunities to those who otherwise have no access to books. While this is important to the students that they serve, the library is also a way to bless the entire refugee community around them.
14 Jan 22
by David LeGault, Communications