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House Hunting

Have you ever seen the TV show called H*use H*unters International?  The show features an individual or a couple who want to rent or buy a house or apartment somewhere outside of the US.  They meet with the realtor and tell him/her what they'd like and what they can afford.  She then takes them to three places and they choose from among those three places.

All of the episodes I've seen have taken place in either Europe or a nice tropical island somewhere.  I'm thinking it's time to have a Niger episode and that I could totally be on it.

When the flood waters hit, 53 adults and kids living on our two campuses found themselves with uninhabitable houses.  23 of those lived in the dorm, so I didn't need to work on finding housing for them.  But, I was very involved in finding housing for the 30 others.  The first thing we did was send a letter to other missions asking if they knew of any houses for rent.  Often when missionaries leave they want somebody to live in their house until they get back or they know of houses for rent in their neighborhoods, etc.  We found four houses this way....three on one compound and another is the seldom-used guest house of another mission.  These four places are already furnished and the people only had to move in.

But that still leaves five places we've gone house hunting for.  Unlike the show where they show you three and then you choose, I've looked at 19 houses and am going out today to look at more.  And other people have looked at houses, too.  It's not as quick and easy as they make it look on the show.

The thing is, not all houses are that nice or move-in ready.  They're what might be referred to as "fixer-uppers".  Or they're too nice and so is the price.  Finding a nice house in our price range takes a lot of time with the realtor!  A side note to spending this much time with realtors (I've been working with two different men) is that I've spent a lot more time than usual using my Songhai and French.  It's been good for my language skills!  My newest French word is "sinistre" which means people who have been displaced by a disaster.  It does NOT have the same meaning as the word "sinister"!

Let me give you a peek into some of the houses we've rejected (if I can get the internet to load my pictures!)
The all-in-one bathroom....sit on the toilet, take a shower, and brush your teeth all at the same time.  The sink still needed to be installed where that drain pipe is.
The leaking, mildewed ceiling in a brand new house.  Several rooms in this house had this issue, which was too bad because it was a pretty nice house.
Pretty sure the house wouldn't fall down????
This is actually a decent kitchen and it already had a washing machine hook-up.  No, houses here don't come with machine hook-ups.  This kitchen is large compared to most, it just needs some repairs.
The hall that lead to nowhere.

A little over two weeks ago when we realized how many houses we needed to find, it was a bit overwhelming!  But just the day before I had heard about a missionary moving, so we were able to get their house.
A nice feature of this house is its walk-in closet.  This is extremely rare here where most houses don't even have closets.
There are actually two houses on the compound, so that provides housing for a family and a single lady.

We found another house not far from that one that two of our single ladies will share. It had previously been rented by a family who had put screens on the windows, so we won't need to do that.  We're sprucing it up with some paint, adding a few outlets, and putting in a washing-machine hook-up.

Another family found a house close to their work place.  In fact, we've rented this house in the past, but had heard it had already been rented out.  It turns out it is still available, so we won't need to do anything to get that house ready.

One more house to go and we should have a place for everybody.

Not only that, but two HUGE houses (mansions!) have been rented; one for the elementary school and one for the secondary school.  Another two very large houses, side by side, have been rented for the dorm.  One will be the boys' dorm and one the girls' dorm.  (I had nothing to do with finding those buildings.)

All of this is costly, though.  We rent our SIM-owned houses at less than market value, and now people are finding themselves having to pay more than they budgeted.  It is also costly for the school to have to rent buildings rather than use their own completely paid for buildings.  Part of our relief project will help cover this increase in rent. The project will also help pay for restoring our buildings once the flood water recede.

And let me remind you, that 50% of the project goes to help local families who lost their entire houses to be able to rebuild.  Simply click here if you'd like to donate to this flood relief project.