Where everything takes cover from noon to 3

By Kinya Kaunjuga

Diori Hamani International Airport in Naimey, the capital city of Niger.

Nothing could have prepared me for the suffocating heat that engulfed my body as I stepped out of the airport. I tried to breathe as I looked for the concierge. My lungs seemed to rebel resulting in a combination of a loud gasp, cough and sneeze, “GRRRAKKA Kaaahhkkk grrrraaawr aaatchoooo!” resembling an alley cat choking on a fishbone.

As I tried to gather whatever ounce of self-dignity I had left after the unprecedented cacophony I had just publicly displayed, someone close by said, “Eh! These first timers to Niger O! Dey go suffer our deep heat O!”

Nigerien men dressed in traditional attire. In Africa, face paint is usually made out of clay with different hues using dried plants and flowers. Each color and symbol has a certain meaning. Yellow is used for joy, energy and warmth.

While frantically digging through my bag to find a nose wipe (it had felt inconsequential to carry a handkerchief since getting a runny nose in 104°F weather had seemed unlikely), I searched the crowd of onlookers through blurry eyes and the sweat dripping from my forehead.

At that moment, I almost cursed being a developer because the hours spent working indoors meant I had an immunity similar to that of a breastfeeding infant. I thought to myself, maybe those military guys delayed my exit from customs to ensure I went outside right when the sun was at its hottest and everything took cover!

Known as the "Deserts of Niger," they usher sandstorms which deposit sand wherever they choose.

With a kinesthetic awareness comparable to a ballerina – which I did not know I possessed – I navigated the baggage claim crowd with my newly discovered sense of space and rhythm. I swerved and twisted through the throng of arrivals then catapulted into a car whose door was being held open by a man waving a sign with my name on it. In no time, we were speeding off into the city of Naimey on a road emitting hazy waves from the scorching tarmac.

Niger covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2, making it the largest country in West Africa, with over 80 percent of its land area covered by the Sahara Desert.
""There are no direct flights from Kenya to Niger. You get on a plane on its way to Burkina Faso which stops in Niger and you get off. Before Ethiopian Airlines started plying the route, you’d go to France and then connect to Niger," explains Jeremy, Banda Systems Administrator.

I didn’t realize when my pulse had stopped racing and my fingers were no longer clenching my bag. As the occasional breeze wafted in and out of the car windows, the air was rendered with a musician softly crooning on the radio. What I had noticed were the driver’s rapid glances my way that reduced gradually and were replaced by his head bobbing to the music and a relieved grin from observing my quick recovery.

He knew I was on an important mission. And just like all the other travelers he had ferried to and from Galmi, he was adamant to ensure my safety and successful arrival. He knew how much the hospital was helping the local communities find hope to live and survive illnesses in a place where few outsiders dared to go.

Family and friends sit outside the Galmi Hospital, in Galmi, Niger. They travel long distances with patients and camp outside the hospital for many hours or days to be close to their loved ones as they receive treatment.

Always improving and innovating for the good of mankind

Jeremy Ogembo, Banda's Health Systems Administrator standing outside Galmi Hospital in Galmi, Niger. (Hospital is spelled in French, the national language of Niger because it was colonized by the French).

In the next episode, we follow Jeremy, our Banda Health Systems Administrator, on his epic mission to provide a groundbreaking solution for Galmi Hospital to use BandaGo as their choice of a health management information system for their busy outpatient services.
Banda Health is thankful for your support because it’s making it possible for our developers to keep building our software technology that is used in some of the harshest most distant places on earth to enable medical facilities operating there achieve their goal of bringing mercy to all through healthcare.

Kinya Kaunjuga

Kinya Kaunjuga

Kinya brings passion, an infectious laugh and 15 years of experience in the corporate and non-profit world to Banda Health. A Texas A&M alumni with a degree in Journalism and Economics, she says, "I love doing things that matter!"