The primary school in the Seiga community of the Niger region of Tillaberi has had a history of hardship and resistance to education. In 2010, RAIN implemented a mentoring program to help enroll and follow students through difficulties they face in attending school from the family, community, and economic pressures. Towards the end of 2011, we increased the number of women mentors from 5 to 20, creating the largest team of RAIN mentors ever organized.
After receiving training about the importance of education and how to handle special family issues, the group of new mentors spent the summer visiting surrounding rural families - leading to the recruitment of the largest first grade class Seiga has ever seen. This year, 17 girls and 17 boys, for a total of 34 new students, filled the classroom - setting a new precedent that the mentors hope will continue into the future.
To sustain the program and help the mentors support their families, the women received animals from RAIN to start several income generating activities. One activity is a practice known locally as embouche. A ram is steadily fed a larger and larger amount of food in preparation for sale during Tabaski, one of the most important holidays of the year, requiring Nigerien families to “sacrifice” a ram for food in honor of Abraham. Another activity is creating mineral salt licks to sell for income and improve the health of their own animals as they tend and breed a herd of goats for food and income. The average first earnings among each mentor was $60-100, a large amount of money in Niger. For example, mentor president Aminatou Salanou was able to bring her desperately ill husband to the local health clinic with income earned from RAIN activities.
“After seeing my husband on the bed, becoming worse and worse each day, barely able to move, I grew despairing. There was nothing I could do." Aminatou shared. "Thanks to the money I've earned, I could pay for his stay at the local health clinic and the medicine needed to treat him until he became healthy again. I thank RAIN as well as all who support RAIN. It makes me happy to think that income producing projects such as these will help my family in situations like this in the future."
Happy Holidays from all of us and all your friends in Niger!
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