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.
Oct 10, 2014

ALC Girls Find a Mentor in Halima Aboubacar

Halima (2nd from L) with students & founder Bess
Halima (2nd from L) with students & founder Bess

“I would like to be Prime Minister or work for an NGO. I want to help the people in my village and my family and fight against terrible diseases.” - ALC Student Faji Hamid

In Niger, girls rarely progress to the 4th grade and 1 in 3 is married before the age of 15. The girls RAIN works with face the additional challenge presented by their remote desert location. Only 2% of girls in Niger make it to secondary school. A good education, like rain, is scarce here — especially for girls. And finding a secure and supportive place to live to persue that education is even scarcer.

New opportunity for nomadic students is found at the Agadez Learning Center – a safe and nurturing home away from home - a place to live, study, tuition, meals, and tutoring to support them through secondary school - a truly unique opportunity for Niger's children to break free of the cycle of poverty. As RAIN expands the center, we expect to set a new precedent in Niger. As girls in our mentoring programs graduate from primary school, they will have an option to continue their studies they would otherwise not have. School is a monumental commitment for desert nomadic kids and their families. Going to class means they aren’t able to help their parents forge a living in the dusty pastureland south of the Sahara. Despite the sacrifices, this fall will find these girls attending school with smiles on their faces. Somehow, they know it’s worth it. They know that each additional year in school brings them closer to a better life: More options. Skills to share back home. Better health. Greater independence. The possibility to be one of the lucky few in Niger to go on to high school, or even college.

Mentoring continues at the ALC

RAIN's mentoring program is gaining momentum at the Learning Center. The girls lean on RAIN staff member Halima Aboubacar as a mentor and role model throughout the school year. Meeting with the girls twice a week, Halima instructs and guides in a firm but gentle style. With her guidance, students delegate responsibilities for a variety of posts and chores, and lead informal peer to peer tutoring sessions. With her help, the average success rate of ALC students in the 2014 school year was twice as high as their peers, demonstrating that with the right support, rural students - despite many challenges - can outperform urban students. Those graduating meet with Halima in conjunction with school staff to assist in plans for high school and specialty schools offering degrees in public health, engineering, agriculture and education. In 2015, RAIN plans to extend our mentoring program, drawing from a local women artisan co-operative, to support the growing number of girls at the Learning Center. 

This fall, 12 students are returning,  joined by 13 girls from RAIN mentoring programs beginning their secondary school journey. Remote northern communities such as Gougaram, Tadek, Tchinfiniten, Soulefet, and Tchintelouste will see a new generation of girls going further in their education than ever before. A special effort is being made to seek out and recruit Wodaabe students in these communities, who are the least represented in Niger schools. 

School starts in a few weeks. Because of friends like you, new opportunity is in reach for these desert children of hardship and hope.

On October 15th, GlobalGiving will match your donation to our mentoring program that keeps at-risk rural and nomadic girls succeeding in school by 30%! Matching begins at 9:00 am EDT and lasts until funds run out or 11:59 pm EDT.

Let's do this! Mark your calendar for October 15th and be sure to spread the word...together we can keep more girls in school to be the next generation of students at the Agadez Learning Center.

                                        ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It's not often that girls in rural Niger are asked about their lives and hopes for the future. RAIN supplied questionairres to the students at the ALC to get to know them better and let them know that their ideas count. Below is a sample from a Wodaabe student.

Dafada Hadiza
Age: 14  Grade: 5

What are common illnesses in your village? Malaria, menengitis, measles, conjunctivitis, fever, back illness.
What is the most difficult part of your life? Life is expensive. We do not take advantage of our culture.
What work did you do as a child? Getting wood and drawing water by mule back. Caring for young goats.
What games did you prefer as a child? Galloping on mule back, playing with clay and a doll, a game called gollel.
What work do you do during your vacations? Helping mother pound millet, bringing wood, herding the flock to pasture, fetching water, embroidering.
What are the recreational activities you prefer? Dancing with my friends, embroidery.
What profession would you like to do when you are an adult? To be a nurse, to help care for the sick.

Tamamounte, Fatima & Dafada enjoying the questions
Tamamounte, Fatima & Dafada enjoying the questions
Faji Hamid
Faji Hamid
Dafada Hadiza
Dafada Hadiza

Links:

Aug 26, 2014

RAIN Artisans Learn New Products!

Illia working on handbags with artisans.
Illia working on handbags with artisans.

The 16 Tuareg women who make up the Albaye leather cooperative in Agadez have recently teamed up with other women artisans in Ingall who primarily work in straw. This collaboration has led to beautiful leather & straw tote bags, a product not possible for these two groups on their own. 

The collaboration continues with new products this summer with some help from a true master artisan - Illiah Addoh, Director of Artisans at the National Museum in Niamey. Organized by Albaye co-op president Oumma Amma, Three artisans from the Ingall straw cooperative joined the 16 members of Albaye to learn ways to improve their craft and make new items. 

We're proud to share two new products from this learning collaboration - straw woven platters and leather handbags.
We are truly excited by the high quality of these items as well as their stunning beauty - the traditional Tuareg patterns taking on a new modern look in completely different ways. 

The tote bags, hand bags and platters will be available for sale on our online nomadic marketplace in the very near future - check back to get yours! 

A very warm "thank you" to our supporters from RAIN staff and our artisan partners as they develop their skills and expand their livelihoods.

Albaye co-op President Oumma
Albaye co-op President Oumma
Straw & Leather Tote
Straw & Leather Tote
Straw Platters
Straw Platters
Albaye Draw String Purse
Albaye Draw String Purse

Links:

Jul 16, 2014

Nassile & Tirboye Schools Get Gardens!

Nassile
Nassile

Since expanding to the southern Tillaberi region of Niger in 2009, RAIN has gained many motivated community partners in creating sustainable food security solutions for the nomadic and semi-nomadic people who call this region their home. As in all rural areas of the country, recovery is still in process from the recent droughts that decimated crops and herds.
We're happy to share news of hope and renewal from the communities of Nassile and Tirboye as they embark on garden and well projects with your support behind them every step of the way.

Nassile Elementary School - Drip Irrigated School Market Garden and Well Installation

The Nassile School serves several surrounding area hamlets, which means most students walk long distances to get to school. Their new 1,000 square meter drip irrigated garden will ensure that a variety of healthy food is provided for them.

Water Issues
Before the updated well installation, women would pull water for their families from a traditional masa-masa well. Besides the poor water quality, the low output left the women waiting for trickles of water until midnight. Many families skipped dinner simply due to a lack of water.

Families now enjoy the benefits of the School Garden well, including greater output and highter quality water. The well fills to the rim during the dry season, and provides fresh water 6-7 months of the year as the water table slowly descends.

Once the well, water tank, and fence work was finished, mentors, local school gardeners, and school staff members were trained to install drip irrigation systems. As the school year ends and the rainy season approaches, students help to plant mango, guava, and papaya saplings for long term sustainability. To date, the garden has produced a successful harvest of over 150kg of cucumbers and about 30 melons at the end of the hot season. Adults and children alike had never seen or heard of a cucumber before cultivating them. Hot season gardening is new to these communities. The possibility of a hot season harvest was demonstrated by the successful harvest of these pilot crops - resulting in greater food security for all.

Tirboye School Garden with Drip Irrigation

Installed near the Gorou Bi, a seasonal river and major tributary of the Niger River, Tirboye's garden is experimenting with papaya trees in addition to mango and guava. The local soil is hard clay, and after an unsuccessful season, we realized that the addition of fertilization with compost is necessary. Though most residents moved out to huts in their fields at the start of the rainy season, RAIN mentors, several students, Tchindo the gardener, and other volunteers joined forces to plant fruit trees and begin to prepare for a rainy season crop of okra, beans, and sesame. Tchindo planted mango trees in the school yard, using thorn fencing as protection from animals. Fruit is not only an important nutritional addition for the students -  it also has the best potential as cash crops.

Year round planting, larger and more diverse crops, and fresh water, when added to the hard work and dedication of our partner communities, brings bounty in the arid Sahel and keeps children healthy and in school. None of it is possible without your support - thank you!

P.S. GlobalGiving will match each donation to School Market Gardens 40% starting 9am EST on July 16th. Giving on this day will mean nearly twice the benefit to families in Niger!  Please share this amazing opportunity with your friends and family.

Nassile student with bottle of dirty water
Nassile student with bottle of dirty water
Boys play in the well mold
Boys play in the well mold
Pulling water from a masa masa well
Pulling water from a masa masa well
Nassile students enjoy the harvest
Nassile students enjoy the harvest
Learning about drip irrigation
Learning about drip irrigation
Nassile girls pose with tree seedling
Nassile girls pose with tree seedling
Boys with melons
Boys with melons
Gardner Tchindo plants mango trees
Gardner Tchindo plants mango trees
Tirboye mentors help plant the garden
Tirboye mentors help plant the garden
Students of Tirboye also are studying for exams
Students of Tirboye also are studying for exams

Links:

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