A Nigerien Valentine’s Day

IMG_1434awebValentine’s Day means absolutely nothing to Nigeriens. When I lived in France, it was still not as big of a deal as it is back in the U.S. But beyond the naysayers who dislike the holiday for its commercial objectives, the point of Valentine’s Day in and of itself will forever be timely.

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Love. Perhaps romantic love comes to your mind first when you think about Valentine’s Day, but its Christian roots are more closely linked to self-sacrificial love. A love that dies for others. In light of some of the recent events that have taken place in Niamey and regions in the east, Valentine’s Day to me has never been more appropriate and truer to those 5th century roots. (For those of you not in the loop, check out this article: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/january-web-only/scores-of-churches-destroyed-charlie-hebdo-protests-niger.html).

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Self sacrificial love in our daily lives, to me, is seen most often in the parent-child relationship. That bond that goes beyond words, that conquers all heights and depths: it is one of an immense, willing self sacrifice.

IMG_1456awebSeveral weeks back I had the privilege of photographing this small family while mom was taking an afternoon to rest. Ibrahim is the dad of these three kids. You can see how big his love is by these photos alone. He wants them to go to school and receive a good education, so much so that he’s moving his eldest daughter to a much more costly new school that will eat away the majority of his paycheck. What a joy it was to be able to capture these sweet moments!

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Whether your Valentine’s Day is one filled with romance or not, how thankful we can be to have experienced self-sacrificial love at some point during our lives. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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