Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The 4-1-1: Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance
If your team is coming as a volunteer team through the IMB, your team IS REQUIRED to have travel insurance from Adams and Associates International. If you are coming independently, we urge you to consider this insurance, which covers medical evacuation

Monday, March 29, 2010

The 4-1-1: Child Protection Training & Background Screening

Child Protection Training and Background Screening
Children are a precious resource entrusted to us and their care and protection is a top priority. In a world where sexual and physical abuse of children is a sad reality, many churches are taking steps to assure that the children related to their ministry are safe and secure from sexual and physical abuse. The IMB is joining the growing number of churches in implementing a child protection process. Because almost everyone serving on the mission field interacts with children, we are asking that all short term mission trip participants ages 18 and older, have child protection training and go through a background screening process.
Many churches have training in place for those who work with children and youth. Child protection training materials are also available free of charge at the IMB’s Web site.  Each person should participate in their church’s training or review the materials provided by the IMB.

Many churches utilize a screening process that includes a criminal background check, an interview, and confidential references. The IMB is requesting that this three part process be utilized for those participating on a short term mission trip. The sending church (or other sending organization) should interview each potential team member, gather and evaluate personal references and secure a company to conduct a criminal background check for each team member. The check should include a county, state and national record check.

Many churches already have engaged a company to conduct criminal background checks. For churches or partner groups that do not have a process in place, the IMB has established a relationship with Protect My Ministry to facilitate the criminal background check process.
The IMB offers sample interview questions and a sample confidential reference form that can be used to complete the other two parts of the background screening process. If a church uses Protect My Ministries, the interview is built into the background check process and need not be separately repeated.

More detailed, step-by-step procedures for completing the training and background screening components of the child protection process are available on the IMB Web site.

Team leaders should confirm in writing to their host contact on the field that each short term mission trip participant has completed the child protection process. The training and screening only needs to be completed every four years, no matter how many trips a person may make.

For short term mission trip participants under the age of 18, the sending church or entity should conduct a reference check only. The training and the other elements of the background screening are not required.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The 4-1-1: Registration Forms

Embassy Registration and Security Issues
Volunteers from the US are required to pre-register with the American Embassy before arriving on the field on-line. If this is not possible, bring with you a completed copy of the embassy registration form and attach to it a copy of your passport. This is how the Embassy gets the count of how many places they need on an airplane if the necessity for evacuation arises; make SURE you are registered!

Current events have lead to increasing security issues within the Songhai homeland. After you have registered with the American Embassy, the consular office will inform you if there are current concerns. They advise: “For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet Web site, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free within the U.S. and Canada or, for callers from other countries, by calling a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).”

IMB Registration
Volunteers are required to give emergency contact information.  The form is available on-line.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The 4-1-1: IMB resources

When you need an encouraging word
You will find helpful people at the IMB's Sub-Saharan Africa Office, phone: 1-800-999-3113. Any time you call the IMB for help, they will want to know your RVA Number.
There is a wealth of information available from the IMB:

Friday, March 26, 2010

The 4-1-1: Know Your Audience

Know Where and to Whom You are Going
Begin to learn about the country(ies) where you will be traveling and the Songhai people. Good information can be found at your local library and on the Internet. Some of the information is be quite dated, but will still provide a solid background.
You will find that our Songhai Team web site contains a people profile, worldview, recipes, proverbs, maps, and much more to introduce your volunteer team to the Songhai people and our ministries.

"Africa Speaks" has essays written by Nigeren college students about West African culture.
"30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus" is an informative site with advice about Islam and how to minister to Muslims.

 Here are a few of the many good books available about the Songhai People:
  • "In the Sorcery's Shadow" by Paul Stoller
  • "Embodying Colonial Memories" by Paul Stoller
  • "Fusion of the Worlds" by Paul Stoller
  • "Scribe, Griot, and Novelist" by Thomas Hale
  • "The Epic of Askia Mohammed" by Thomas Hale
  • "The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay" by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
  • "The Songhay Empire" by David Conrad
  • "Songhay, The Empire Builders" by Phillip Koslow
  • "Sword, Seal and Koran" by Siaf Millar (published by Concept Learning)
  • "Songhay" by Tunde Adeleke
  • "A Glorious Age in Africa" by Daniel Chu and Elliott Skinner
The US State Department Country Information:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The 4-1-1: Vaccinations & Antimalarials

Vaccinations and Antimalarials
Contact your personal physician or local Health Department. They can tell you what vaccinations are required and/or recommended for your trip. You will need to start your vaccinations early; some are individual doses, while others are a series requiring repeated doses spaced over several months to complete. Malaria prevention is a necessity.
Currently, the only vaccination legally required to enter Niger is the Yellow Fever vaccination; there are others that are highly recommended. If you opt to not get all the recommended vaccines, we would hope to encourage you, at the very least, to get a meningitis vaccine if your volunteer trip falls between January and May of the year. Keep in mind that the Yellow Fever vaccine is valid from 10 days AFTER it is given up to 10 years following the day the dose is given, so you cannot receive it the day you leave home.
Helpful on-line advice about vaccinations and travel:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Helpful Information for Volunteers

It takes a lot of planning & preparation to come overseas on a mission trip! Movies make it look so easy ... one day you decide to go, the next day you are sitting pretty having coffee at a fabulous place in Paris! Trust us, it is not so in the real world ... especially West Africa! From passport & visa applications to vaccinations to purchasing airfare to all the other preparations for a trip to a lost & dying world, it takes a lot of time and involves a lot of information!! We hope that we can help you get to the field without too many hassles & you can help us once you get here by being planned, informed & ready to go!!

Here is some information that will be helpful to you in planning & some definite "need to know" as well. If you have committed to come as a volunteer with the Songhai Team, please take the time to look over & read every article that applies to you ... maybe even twice!!


The Ultimate 4-1-1
   All you need to know is right here:

For the Team Leader
   Information on how to be an effective team leader & other valuable pre-field information

Bare Bones
   A shortened version of "need to know" information for ALL volunteers!

   All the information you'll need to get the ball rolling for your trip & help you keep it rolling until you get on the plane!

Telling the Story
   Will your team be involved with sharing stories from Scripture? Then this information will be very helpful to you!

Vaccination Clinics
   Doing a medical or vaccination clinic? You will definitely want to read this!

Working with a translator
   Unless you are fluent in Songhai, you will need to read this! Working with a translator is not as easy as it looks!

   Everyone is always curious as to what they will eat in an impoverished country like Niger. Click here & find out!

Free Advice
   Here's some free advice from a seasoned missionary! Read it & take it to heart!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Destination: Niger (Niamey)

History of Niamey (capital city)
   Very little is known about the founding of Niamey, except that it was originally an agricultural village of Zarma, Maouri and Fulani peoples. In 1896 the area was incorporated into French West Africa. In 1902 the village became a French fort and later the capital of Niger colony in 1926. Today Niamey is Niger's largest city and its administrative and economic center. It is located on the Niger River and at the crossroads of the country's two main highways.

Population / People Groups
   Following WWII, the population gradually increased, from about 3,000 in 1930 to a current international population of approximately 1 million. Some of each of Niger’s 35 distinct people groups can be found in Niamey, along with immigrants and refugees from many other West African countries, but it is largely Zarma, Hausa, and Westerners.

Church Status
   Niamey has become the hub of most non-governmental organizations, including mission agencies. There are several denominations working in evangelical and human needs capacities in the capital city and its surrounding villages, both in French and in local dialects. Because Niamey is at the extreme southern end of where the Songhai people are located, the IMB Songhai Team has been focusing its efforts up river. However, as of September 2010, the IMB has urged the Songhai Team to begin strategically reaching the Songhai of Niamey as an "urban focus."
   Other villages in Niger that have/had church planting efforts include Ayorou, Karma, Tagabati, Boubon, Tera, Dargol & Gotheye. There are currently 3 churches that have been planted throughout these areas & evangelistic efforts still continuing.

Housing for Guests / Cost Estimates
Southern Baptist Guesthouse
   Your daily costs are based on the places where your specific group will stay. This amount will differ depending on your team’s traveling schedule and the number of people in your group. While in Niamey, you will probably be staying in the Southern Baptist Guesthouse & reservations will be made for you prior to your arrival.
   Each room will sleep one to four people; each room either has its own bathroom or shares with one another room. There are shared kitchen facilities for each wing with running water and a water filter. Air conditioners (per hour at personal expense) and ceiling fans are in each bedroom. There is hot water in the showers. Linens and toilet paper are provided. The guesthouse is located on the same land as our business office. There is a tennis/ basketball court, “walking track”, washing machines, clothes line, iron and ironing board.
   Over night: 7,500 CFA per person
   Air Conditioning: by meter or 500 CFA per hour
   Loads of Laundry: 500 CFA per load

Phone Calls
   All outgoing phone calls are made using a pre-paid calling card purchased in country. There are phone lines and wireless Internet connections in the guesthouse that work on occasion; your family is welcome to call in the evenings. There is a five hour difference between Niamey and the US Eastern Time Zone (Atlanta), six for the Central Time Zone (Dallas), during the summer. Niamey is UT +1.

Specifics Unique to Your Stay 
   When coming to Niamey, you will fill out a white card in the airport once you land at the Diori Hamani International Airport. This will need to be filled out and handed, with your passport, to the first checkpoint policeman in uniform. For this card, you are a tourist staying at the Mission Baptiste Méridionale, 857 Rue des Ambassades, Niamey, phone (227) 20-72-20-26. Should you need further information, the office and guesthouse are located just after the American Embassy, directly in front of the Algerian Embassy. You usually need to show your boarding pass as you de-plane.
   You will probably be met by a member of the Songhai Team or a Nigerien man holding a sign with your name written on it to help you after you have passed through the official checkpoints. Luggage carrier Number 10 (presently in a blue coat) will help you with your bags, if he is available. A member of the Songhai Team will meet you outside the airport.

   Depending on the size of your group and the availability of Mission vehicles, it might be necessary to rent transportation for stay. Your Songhai Team Host will advise you of the details and it will be included in your budget.

Your Songhai Team Host and the Niamey Business Facilitator will work together to make sure your financial needs are met. At least 6 weeks before you come, your team leader should receive a budget from your Songhai Team Host with instructions on how to best transfer funds to cover these expenses.

Niamey Contact Information

Office Phone: (227) 20-72-20-26

Office and Guesthouse Physical Address:
Mission Baptiste Méridionale
857 Rue des Ambassades

Monday, March 22, 2010

FREE resources

Here are some links to great FREE resources to distribute to your church about the Songhai or Sub-Saharan African Peoples


Desk Calendar

Scrapbook Kit

Flavors of West Africa: A Coffee & Chocolate Themed Prayer Event

Prayer Bookmarks

Touch Your World, Reach the Nations DVD