“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.
Since expanding to the southern Tillaberi region of Niger in 2009, RAIN has gained many motivated community partners to take part in the widely popular mentoring program. We're happy to share that the communities of Nassile and Tirboye, with your help, are embarking on this journey of education and new opportunity for girls and women alike.
The initial community meetings, recruitment process and training has taken place - the stage is set for the joyful task of empowering girls to succeed.Nassile's Mentoring Program The Nassile School serves several surrounding area hamlets, each of which is represented by a mentor. This arrangement serves to unite the greater community around our important education initiative. As in all RAIN mentoring programs, mentors are teaching their students valuable practical skills, including the craft of straw and stalk weaving that is a tradition in the region.MentorsSalamatou Bilan Zeinabou Djibo Mariama Yaya Beldo Bodo Fatimata Boukari Tirboye's Mentoring Program The women mentors of Tirboye have been helping their students with the hoeing and planting in their new School Market Garden so they may also dedicate enough time to studying for the CM2 exam that ends the primary school cycle.
MentorsFosse Talata Dafarini Tchoga Lamouri Kondjoua Ramata Mahamane Larba KampalambaWe look forward to updating you in the very near future as these two mentoring programs bloom to give at-risk girls a leg up in school and in life. None of it is possible without your support - thank you!P.S. GlobalGiving will match each donation to the Mentoring Program 40% starting 9am EST today! Giving today will mean nearly twice the benefit to at-risk girls in Niger....please share this amazing opportunity with your friends and family.
As new schools open in rural and marginalized areas of Niger, a gap is forming between unschooled adults and educated young people. Parents who worked their whole lives are wondering why their children are exhausted after a day at school: “You have been sitting in a chair all day. Why are you so tired?” Some parents find it especially difficult to understand the value of education for girls when there are so many chores to do at home, like pulling water from the well, pounding grain, and collecting firewood for cooking.
In the RAIN mentoring program, local women from rural areas sponsor young girls, serving as a liaison between the school staff and parents, advocating for the girls’ education, and teaching them practical skills in semi-formal workshops. The workshops enable mentors and students to revisit key concepts learned at school using their mother tongue, and to supplement the informal learning that goes on in everyday village life with practical skills. The acquisition of practical skills is important because it helps the community see that supporting education is not a contradiction to their culture.
RAIN mentor Fatimata lives in Ouro Jelgoobe (or ‘Home of the Jelgoobe’), a part of the Nassile region where the famously nomadic Jelgoobe Fulani are located. Fatimata spends time with her students in a novel way: she accompanies them into the countryside in search of a particular kind of thick grass. Fatimata is a master crafter of secco mats; long mats which make the nomadic dome tents the Jelgoobe Fulani live in easy to disassemble and reassemble as families move with their cows in search of pastureland.
During Fatimata's time with her group of girls, she will teach them every step of the craft, from the collection of the thick grass to the final stages of production. At the same time, as they talk about school and other issues, Fatimata will serve as an informal counselor and ally, and they will form an important bond of trust. Mentors like Fatimata bonding with at-risk girls during familiar tasks while encouraging their studies is wholly unique. Normally, nomadic girls would accomplish these sorts of chores accompanied by family members, with discussions revolving around gossip or small talk rather than education - for a comparison, think of what you talk about when you go food shopping with a friend.
Your support makes it possible for RAIN mentors to champion girls’ dreams of education, offer support for schools, and make a lasting and positive difference to Niger’s future.
The nomadic communities of Seiga & Ingui in the Tillaberi region of Niger are hard hit by recent droughts and an influx of Mali refugees. Men are often absent searching for work, leaving women to support families without means to generate income and no access to seed funds. Though RAIN mentoring programs in both communities have drastically increased girls' enrollment, education is a long term investment that requires sustainable support. With RAIN's help, women mentors start small enterprises such as herding or tailoring. S&L groups help keep it all going.
A new initiative, our savings and loan programs provide the seed funds needed for mentors to engage in small scale enterprise to generate income. Training will equip mentors to extend the program to women in the the wider communities. 50% of funds generated will support the mentoring program keeping at-risk girls in school and providing sustainability. S&L members learn the value of saving and basic principles of finance as family stability and food security increases.
For the communities of Seiga & Ingui, 30 mentors and their families will be able to retain their current food stocks and herd animals with income to purchase food with help from the S&L. Subsistence level herding will grow to become profit generating enterprise along with the knowledge of the value of saving. Women's contributions and decisions will empower them economically & socially as the program is extended to hundreds more women in Seiga and Ingui as well as surrounding areas.
Girls + Women = Greater Empowerment!
The RAIN Mentoring program is about keeping at-risk girls learning and in school - but it's also about economically and socially empowering the women who mentor them. Knowledge is shared and support is increased- making this the most beloved and popular program in our partner communities.
Now, these two communities will have the opportunity to learn and earn. Visit our S&L project page to learn more.
As always, thank you for your support!
"Knowledge is like the bird in the forest. No one person can catch it." - African Proverb
Small enterprise initiatives have been an integral part of RAIN’s array of tranformative programs since 2006. In 2011, we initiated a Savings & Loan pilot program with the mentors in the community of Akokan, Arlit.
We choose the S&L model over microfinance because we feel it’s imparative that members invest their own funds after the initial seed investment provided by RAIN. Members are regularly astounded when they discover how their contributions grow over time. Saving is not a part of nomadic culture, and S&L's serve to teach the concept of saved sums adding up towards a common goal. Once trained, mentors will not only run their own S&L groups, some will go on to become community trainers independently.
Pilot Program: The Mentors of Akokan
The Akokan women's mentor group of Arlit first began in 2005. Since then, the members have come to know and trust each other, and have created a strong partnership with the local school, supporting themselves and their program with a herd of goats provided by RAIN. The next goal: achieve sustainability for the 16 mentors and 82 at-risk girls for the next two years.
When asked what new activity they would like to pursue to generate more funds, the women expressed that creating a group enterprise would be difficult, that they prefer a program that will allow them to work independently. And so the idea of a savings and loan program to support each member's own enterprise was mutually proposed.
"With this activity, I acquired a knitting machine with a value of $160, from which I will continue to profit." - Fourera Alassane, Akokan mentor
Looking Ahead: New S&L Groups
Armed with knowledge from the Akokan pilot program, RAIN will be initiating new S&L groups of 25-30 women in 2014, based on the Oxfam model, tailored to unlettered women complete with a written reference guide and regular monitoring. We hope to initiate S&L groups in all of our partner communities, starting in the food insecure Tillaberi region of Niger.
During the first year, bi-weekly meetings will be regularly monitored by RAIN’s Tillaberi field agent, Akhmoud Mawala. A native Nigerien Tuareg who resides in Ingui, Akhmoud worked with RAIN Niger Program Director Brian Nowak as a master teacher in our adult bilingual literacy program. Akhmoud is an excellent teacher and trainer.The first three months consist of building the bank with savings, followed by distribution of the loans and repayment. In order to effectively follow the oral monitoring system used by the mentors, Akhmoud will maintain an independent written log of loans and repayment along with individual accounts regarding how the funds were used by each member.
The benefits of S&L groups for mentors and other women in nomadic partner communities are many, including:
Savings and loan programs organize mentors, solidify their relationship as community advocates and provide economic assistance. With no access to traditional credit, rural women in particular need support to become more economically independent. With that support, they hold the key to lifting their communities out of poverty. Studies have shown that women invest 90% of their earnings in their families while men spend 40% at home. While many men work or volunteer in RAIN programs, we have found that women have greater appreciation for the importance of education, and are motivated to contribute their time and earnings to improve their children’s prospects.
Our goal is to create in each community an array of learning and earning groups that together raise the economic and educational well-being of the local population. With your help, savings and Loan groups provide long term socio-economic support while fostering program self sufficiency and community independence.
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