The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

January 4, 2007

Enid woman spends 3 years in Africa with Peace Corps


If children are malnourished, Valtr enrolls them in her health program for four months and tries to provide the nutrition to make them healthy. In the meantime, she educates their parents on what type of food would be better for the children.

“When you do the nutrition right, the kid lives,” she said.

She was adopted by a host family and made many friends among the people of her village. Some of them brought their children to her for treatment, and some of the children died. Sometimes, she went to her hut and cried at the hopelessness of their situation.

Every day, she was aware of her color. Valtr said it was unusual to be aware of her color and realize she was in the minority.

Valtr and another volunteer organized a girls youth camp, hosting girls from 13 to 15 from 10 villages. During the camp, they discussed reproductive health, pre-natal and post-natal care, sex and AIDS. AIDS is not as common in Niger as it is in many other African nations, Valtr said, but it is becoming a problem. One reason AIDS has not yet become a problem is because 95 percent of the people in Niger are Muslim.

She also brought in women nurses who acted as role models.

She lived in Doultcha for nearly three years, eating tuwo every day just like the other villagers. Tuwo is a meal made from ground millet. It provides the staple for rural Niger residents every day. They eat very little else, Valtr said.

Leaves of the baobob tree are harvested and pounded into a sauce for the millet.

Tuwo does not taste good and looks worse, although Valtr said she got used to it.

“That’s one thing I won’t miss,” she said.

Sometimes, they will grind beans into flour, and they also raise sugar cane and sorghum, but millet is the primary crop. They store the harvested plants in a grass hut and wait until they need it.

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