Humans of LWR: Ahmed Oudou, Staff Driver in Niger

Drivers are some of my favorite co-workers.
Drivers are often in the shadows but play a crucial role in LWR’s work. They keep us safe while dodging pot holes, avoiding cattle crossing the street, and (usually!) ensuring the vehicle doesn’t get stuck in the mud. Road conditions, laws, and driving norms in developing countries can be very different from the U.S., and LWR staff drivers are more familiar about the local laws and the driving culture. I spend a lot of time with drivers, whether stuck in city traffic, or on a long-distance road trip to visit rural villages. I’ve passed many hours learning about their families, chatting about politics, or explaining the complicated U.S. election system.

They have the longest work day: early in the morning, they have to leave home to get the vehicle at the office; they aim to be early to pick you up (in case there are traffic delays); then at the end of the day, when everyone’s done, they have to clean the vehicle – inside and out – to be ready for the next day, before going home.

I can snooze on long-distance trips, but the driver can’t. I can make work calls when stuck in traffic, but the driver has to stay focused.

Ahmed Oudou has been with LWR in Niger for the past eight years. During this period, he got married and had two girls, now aged six and three. He’s away from home a lot. But he enjoys his work.

He’s a “city boy,” from Niamey, but thanks to this job, he’s been able to see different parts of Niger, and neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali. He’s seen the challenges many small-scale farmers and herders face, but he’s also seen their successes. One of the visits that made an impression on him was visiting in the valley of Adouna, in the region of Tahoua. LWR was visiting farmers who irrigate their vegetable crops (onions, tomatoes, and such) using water from a small dam. He saw the bounty of food they were able to produce and was overjoyed to enjoy some grilled fish with them, fished from the river. At that moment, he realized how complicated urban life was and that there was so much to be appreciated in the simple life of a farmer.

The Humans of LWR series seeks to provide a glimpse into the lives of the people who joined us in the mission of ending poverty, injustice and human suffering.