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
We love to share stories about how the women in our artisan cooperatives are learning and earning, but what's better is when we can share a story as told by our partners themselves. The following is from an artisan named Halima:
"My name is Halima Atchani. I was born in 1965 in Agadez, and I’m a leather artisan. I began this work when I was 12 years old. It’s traditional work that I inherited from my parents. My mother is also a leather artisan and my father is a shoe-maker. Since I have started my training with RAIN, the methods of my craft in leather have changed a great deal. As a member of the RAIN “Albaye” artisan cooperative in Agadez, I’ve been learning new designs of items I already know how to create, as well as how to make other items for the first time. RAIN provides us with precise specifications for items or sometimes with a model to work from. All the members get together and share the work, allowing us to complete our items in a short amount of time. We receive very good compensation from RAIN for our products. It is thanks to this work that I’m able to regularly support my family’s needs of food, clothing, schooling and health. I provide sole support of my six children since my husband died ten years ago. Working as a member of the RAIN artisan cooperative, I’m gaining experience and earning a living doing what I love to do. This year, I was sponsored by RAIN to attended the SAFEM, an international exhibition for women artisans in the capital of Niamey. I connected with many other artisans and discovered that my work is greatly appreciated by both natives Nigeriens and foreigners alike. Beginning this year, RAIN will help us create our own shop in Agadez, where all the artisan members can come and work together. We will have our products on exhibit for sale, and this will give us good visibility and provide increased sales. We’re so happy to have the help of RAIN to achieve these things for ourselves and our families."
You should feel great about your role in helping to facilitate the blossoming of what these women already possess: talent and determination to learn new things and support their families. Be sure to visit our new website as we add photo galleries and updates of our artisans!
This fall, some women from the artisan co-operative Albaye (formerly "Cool Water") had the chance to sell their hand crafted items at a craft fair in Agadez. Members of the co-operative paid for meals, transport and sale table rent with their own funds. The women chose on their own to attend the sale on RAIN’s behalf. The governor of Agadez, the Prefect and other dignitaries visted and made some purchases. The group told them all about how RAIN helps them and they, in turn, invest in their children's education.
RAIN "Albaye" Co-op member Ouwa Ghoumour writes:
"I have been working with leather since I was a young child. This is actually a traditional and cultural activity that my family follows. My mother also works with leather and everything I've learned is soley from her. Together, we would create different styles of small and large wallets, especially the traditional Tuareg wallet called “Albaye” that women and men alike wear around their necks.
When I married, I began working on my own at home making the same style of wallets. But when RAIN came to Agadez, I began working on new kinds of items with my friends.
RAIN helps us find new designs and provides raw materials, and with these elements we make leather key rings, wallets for portable phones, passport purses, and other items. We learn better design techniques and how to market our products. RAIN helped us organize our Artisan Cooperative, now called "Albaye" in memory of my mother. This is quite a success story for us. In September of 2011, with the support of RAIN, Albaye made 40 small leather phone purses that were sold in the U.S. for 5,000 FCFA ($10) each, for a total of 200,000 FCFA ($400). Thanks to this sale, our cooperative made a profit of 120,000 FCFA ($240). The cooperative will donate 50% of the proceeds, or 60,000 FCFA ($120), to Ibrahim Oumarou Sanda school, named after the Sultan of Agadez who built the school, and attended by very poor nomadic children. This contribution is a commitment we have been proud to make since we began working with RAIN.
I wish to thank RAIN and all the GlobalGiving donors who support RAIN’s activities in Niger."
RAIN has given the group an advance for materials towards the next order placed of 160,000 FCFA - 20,000 FCFA for each artisan. We look forward to seeing the new products they create and sharing them with our friends in the U.S.!
P.S. Don't forget - October 19th is the last Global Giving bonus day of the year. Each donation to RAIN projects will be matched, up to $100,000. Take advantage of this chance to double your impact for nomadic families in West Africa.
Exciting news....the “Metier Chance Vivre,” (Chance for Life) Artisan Embroidery Cooperative has begun working with a tailor local to the Agadez region, Aja. Aja will create the scarves, tote bags, and other sown items for the women to embroider on a separate piece of fabric that is later incorporated in the final product, allowing the members to create more items in a shorter period of time. Aja has rare experience with western markets, with a good grasp of the standards of work quality as well as fashion ideas. She will be further instructing the women on modern design techniques, combining them with the Wodaabe centuries old embroidery traditions, increasing the value and beauty of their finished products.
Women tailors are very unusual in Niger, it is an area of work most often reserved solely for men. RAIN is proud to now be facilitating the all-women artisan enterprise true to the inspiration of our original vision for the program.
New developments are happening in addition to new products - discussions are underway about the cooperative members to possibly work with a well known designer in Niger. RAIN staff is also actively seeking out local markets for sale of the co-operative products, as well as facilitating the process for the artisans to become members of Niger’s national alliance of craftswomen.
All these efforts are with the goal of enhancing the co-operatives’ visibility and development as artisans, not only to generate income for themselves and their children’s schools, but towards building new livelihoods, which will continue to benefit their lives and the community for years to come.
We continue to be heartened and impressed by these women’s resolve, hard work, and talent......Bravo, Metier Chance Vivre Co-operative!
If you have interest in purchasing tote bags or other items from the co-operative, email Julia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RAIN, in partnership with ten Tuareg women from Agadez, has created a new artisan cooperative: Aman Sanodnan, or "Cool Water." From a Tuareg proverb - one walks in the hot desert searching for water, always disappointed, but you must go on – you are about to give up, when you come upon a well. And the water is cool and good. At last your work is rewarded, you have come in from the hot sun and found the shade. The women chose this name to signify that after much hard work with little reward, they have found the cool water of RAIN.
These highly skilled artisans are working with locally produced leather to make purses, cell phone cases, ceremonial wallets, and traditional Tuareg tassels, which adorn their camel saddles. RAIN is waiting eagerly for the new items to arrive, so we can introduce them to the U.S., and so that our friends here can have a little piece of Niger.
Also in Agadez, the Wodaabe women of the MCV embroidery cooperative are hard at work creating beautiful tote bags and purses. They are now working with an established woman tailor, making it truly an all-woman enterprise. The new tailor has many new design ideas for the group. The finished pieces will not only go to be sold in the U.S., but with the help of RAIN staff, be sold in markets in Niger, as well.
The investment you've made in these women continues to grow as they "learn and earn," for their children and community..... we'll let you know when their items are available for sale and keep you updated on their progress.
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