Rain for the Sahel and Sahara

Rain for the Sahel and Sahara (RAIN) forges partnerships with underserved nomadic and rural desert peoples of West Africa to realize their ambitions for education and enduring livelihoods with a focus on empowering girls and women with learning and earning.
May 29, 2012

A VISIT TO MARI, NIGER

RAIN
RAIN's Abdou Garba at the Mari School Market Garde

Dear Friends,

I’m just back from Niger.  I’m sure many of you have seen in the news that it’s a time of drought and hunger there.  It’s difficult to be in Niger's countryside and see the parched earth, the desperation and hunger in people’s faces.  The situation is worsened by refuges arriving from Mali and other neighboring countries that are experiencing war or fragile political situations.  Despite the hardships they are suffering the people of Niger are proud that their country remains a peaceful, united one.

In this season when the land looks like endless sand and dust, it is almost miraculous to come upon a green RAIN school market garden. I visited the hamlet of Mari in Tillabery two weeks ago.  The school’s garden was flourishing, bursting with vegetables for the children to eat.  The gardener reported that about 40% of the produce is eaten by the children while 60% is sold to buy food staples such as grain and pay the garden’s expenses. A truly sustainable, long-term program for improving children’s health and nutrition, while helping their school.

 At RAIN we believe in creating an integrated set of programs for developing livelihoods and supporting schools.  In Mari we have a mentor program and are currently building a garden and teaching the 99 women of the Mari garden cooperative  about nutrition and organic gardening techniques.

 I met with the Mari school director. He told me that since 2009, when RAIN began its programs in Mari, school enrollment has shot up from 65 to 233 students.  Bravo Mari!  Bravo to all of you supporting RAIN!

 Much gratitude and best regards to all,  Bess Palmisciano

Mari schoolchildren -- their numbers have tripled!
Mari schoolchildren -- their numbers have tripled!
The start of the garden for 99 women
The start of the garden for 99 women
A Tuareg woman, one of the 99 in the garden co-op
A Tuareg woman, one of the 99 in the garden co-op
The garden will help support the women + school
The garden will help support the women + school
At nutrition class with teacher Halima
At nutrition class with teacher Halima

Links:

May 22, 2012

Sahel news: Women Artisans Supporting Schools

Halima Orte, Pres. of Barka Cooperative & her son
Halima Orte, Pres. of Barka Cooperative & her son

Dear friends and supporters,

I was so pleased to be in Niger last week to attend a meeting of Wodaabe women artisans of the Barka Embroidery cooperative – a RAIN partner – and their school’s director.  The purpose – to decide how the women would invest the $730 they have earned to support their school in Foudouk. 

 This sum represents ½ the women’s earnings over the last months.  They are so proud to step forward to help the school which, though a public school, receives little assistance from Niger’s underfunded government.

It’s the Hungry Season in Niger – it hasn’t rained since last September and food stocks are running low as nomadic people wait for this year’s rainy season to bring much needed pasture to the herd animals that are their livelihoods. RAIN is helping to deal with hunger with its animal feed program.

 Milk from the cows and goats that their parents herd is the main source of food for Foudouk’s children. When food is scarce, children are especially susceptible to illness. 

 The women and the school director agreed that medicines are the most pressing need. The school director will help to organize a pharmacy at the school, while the women will stock it with medicines to treat the most common of the children’s illnesses.  The project is overseen by a steering committee of women from the artisan cooperative.

 Women are key to economic development in Africa.  Cheers to RAIN’s women artisans who are earning livelihoods while supporting their children’s schools! And to you, our donors.

Warm regards, Bess Palmisciano

Binbiya Marafa, Pres. of the pharmacy committee
Binbiya Marafa, Pres. of the pharmacy committee
A well near Foudouk
A well near Foudouk
chief of the Foudouk Wodaabe people
chief of the Foudouk Wodaabe people
The village of Foudouk with ceremonial beds
The village of Foudouk with ceremonial beds
A tote bag with embroidery by Foudouk cooperative
A tote bag with embroidery by Foudouk cooperative
Feb 28, 2012

Mentoring Story: Boulie and Fatima

Boulie and Fatima
Boulie and Fatima

As always, the most powerful stories of impact come from the beneficiaries themselves. Please enjoy this narrative from Boulie, one of our dedicated mentors and her student, Fatima.

My name is Boulie, I am a mentor in Bonfeba, a community located north of the Tillabéri region of Niger. I’m pictured here with my mentored girl, Fatima Alhassane, who is in the 6th grade this year. With RAIN’s support, I am mentoring 5 school children (3 girls and 2 boys) along with Fatima, whom I have been mentoring since 2009, when she was 8 years old. She is now 13, and this is her last year in our school.  When she graduates at the end of this year, she will go on to high school in Tillabéri next year.  I am very proud of Fatima, who is one of my success stories during all these years of mentoring. I will let her tell you our story: 

“At first, I went to school only when I felt like going, as my parents did not do much to encourage me. But then Boulie came along to motivate me to attend. She used to say:  ‘Fatima, you are a very intelligent and wonderful girl, you need to go to school and be somebody! You can be a nurse, a school teacher, whatever you want to be, if you go to school and succeed!’ Encouragement that leads you to dream about your future. I began to be interested in going to school, did not miss a class, arrived on time, and listened carefully to my teachers, and my grades began to be much better.

As with the other four mentored kids, Boulie will follow up on our schooling year after year. Sometimes she will invite me to her house to continue talking and working on practical skills. But when I reached the 5th grade, she noticed I was not attending my Saturday morning practical skills class. My father had me help at his general store instead – he said that I was old enough and so must help.  I wasn’t happy about working in the store while my friends were in class, and neither was my mother. Boulie understood, and said: ‘Don’t worry, I will not let him ruin your schooling when you’re about to finish primary school.’ She tried to persuade my father, but he continued taking me to the shop. She asked some community elders to talk to him, but he still refused. She decided that every Saturday she would go to the shop and get me to bring to class.  The first few Saturdays, my father was angry, but did not confront her. She continued every Saturday until everyone knew what was going on at my father’s store. Finally came the Saturday that my father left to go to his store without asking me to come with him. I knew that Boulie and I had won the battle and I ran to her house to tell her. Since that day, I have never missed a mentoring class, and my father isn’t angry with Boulie anymore as he sees me succeeding in school. I give thanks to God and thanks to RAIN for this mentoring program. Even if I attend college in Tillaberi, I will still benefit from Boulie’s advice whenever I come home for the holidays until I become a teacher. That is what I want to be when I grow up.”  

Your support gives Fatima and Boulie the courage to makes dreams come true. Thank you!

Boulie with her mentored students
Boulie with her mentored students

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