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Apr 5, 2019

Testimonials from Our Girls and Partners

Mentor and Mentee
Mentor and Mentee

We believe that the words of our participants are the most persuasive reasons to support this project.  We spoke with Hadiza, a middle school student in Arlit. She was visiting Iferouane, where her cousin, Ounmou, a student who had gone through RAIN’s mentoring program, was to be married. 

Ounmou was engaged for several years but because of Ounmou’s strong desire to continue her studies, with the support of her mentor, Ounmou was able to arrange for a delay of her marriage by 3 years while she completed her studies. Ounmou’s mentor helped her to establish this arrangement. In turn, Ounmou served as a role model for her counsinHadiza, who was struck by Ounmou’s insistence on continuing with her education. Hadiza expressed how her cousin’s choices had made an impression on her and encouraged her to stay in school as well.

 

Fatima, a Tuareg girl from the village of Baytal, east of Agadez on the road to Dabaga, is in 6ème (the first year of middle school):

“My family lives simply: the women do the housework and drive our herds to the pasture. There is no mill, no electricity, no boreholes to easily find water. 

In the city of Agadez, it is the Agadez Learning Center that impressed me the most with its study programs, dormitories, the food, the various advisory supports and other officials of the ALC Center, and the students of different ethnic groups from different areas of the country.  When I finish my studies, I would like to become a primary school teacher, to live and not depend on anyone, and help my little brothers and sisters in my village.”

 

Aicha is a Fulani girl from the village of Golkorehi, south of Ingal.  She is in 5ème (the second year of middle school). She comes from an elementary school where there was just one teacher for multiple grades of students. She explains what women’s lives look like where she comes from:

“The women of my village live well, in perfect harmony; they help each other but we have an issue with water – only women fetch water and it can take a period of four hours or sometimes more to draw the water and load it on the donkeys.”

 

Souleyman, an Elementary School Director notes:

We are so grateful to RAIN for the support given to our school this year. It is my second year [as School Director] and I have struggled with both community involvement and a lack of teachers:

The women mentors in the community are a pleasant surprise as most rural schools rarely see parents or anyone in the community visiting the school or discussing students’ progress.

Look at my classroom. The children are all together here, from three different grades. I do my best to instruct them together and to give them individual attention as we have 6th graders that need special support to be able to continue on to middle school. The afterschool classes have helped so much. When the official school day ends and RAIN’s program begins, I feel like I can really teach what I need to.

 

Tanalher, one of our local, female mentors reflects about the mentoring program and value of education, telling Azara Touma-Touma Ibrahim (RAIN’s Women and Girls Program Coordinator) that:

RAIN’s school programs this year greatly helped our school. In their free time, I talk with my students about good hygiene and the importance of education. I also teach the girls I sponsor how to weave colored, palm-frond hats and mats. If my parents had realized the importance of school for my generation, we would have studied and [the new generation] wouldn’t have this problem of lacking teachers.

Jan 8, 2019

New Communities are Gaining Mentors

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 community of Etaghas, with your help, is 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.

Etaghas Mentoring Program 

The Etaghas 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. The five mentors will help spark the drive in twenty five elementary school students. 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.
                                 
We 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!

Jan 7, 2019

Garden Expansion for Better Food and Cleaner Water

Salamatou, mother of four children, lives in Nassile in a remote rural area in the Sahel region of Niger. When she was a child, she grew up around the last areas of countryside supporting diverse wildlife including lions, elephants and hyenas. Today, the animals are long gone and only scrub-brush remains where large trees once flourished. This poor region now faces regular food insecurity, a lack of water for basic needs and families struggle to make ends meet.

Schools have presented new challenges to parents as they struggle to survive and enroll children into school, weighing the benefits of their children attending school or staying home to work. Salamatou is one of RAIN’s mentors that have the leadership qualities and motivation to work as a community leader for the Access to Education mentoring program. She sponsors five students providing home and school visits, practical skills training and general socio-emotional support and encouragement to work hard in school.

Salamatou was a major force in organizing neighbors and friends to participate in learning a new skill together. In the first year of gardening, individuals saw a fresh tomato and a cucumber for the first time. After last year’s harvest, Salamatou said:

, “Before RAIN came to our village, I didn’t know anything about gardening. Now I know how to prepare the soil, transplant seedling, and use drip irrigation with organic pesticide. I worked to produce my own vegetables. I sell part of my harvest, offer some as social assistance and have consumed a good part in order to feed my family. Some of the harvest we dry. I have dried onion leaves for sauce, and dried tomato and cabbage that can be stored and eaten later.”

As the growing season approaches in Niger, it is a time of rejoice. The rains are precious for there is only a few months each year that it falls. During this fertile time the dusty Sahel becomes a vibrant green. For the people living here, it is a blessing, for without water there can be no life. There is a phrase in the Tuareg language of Tamasheq called “Aman Iman” meaning water is life. The average rain fall in Niger is less than an inch of rain every year.

To combat this incredible lack of water, RAIN has installed dozens of wells in at-risk villages and communities. This year, after discussions with our partner communities in Nasslie and Tagantassou, we have found that there is a need to provide more access to water. The communities have requested that more wells be built to expand their current community garden and to supply water for the surrounding hamlets.  With the extra well, hundreds will benefit from the increased cultivation of vegetables and plentiful clean water.

Our goal is to create four new wells over the next two years. The overall cultivation of crops and profits made by the community has increased by more than three times the previous year. This is an indicator that not only is it possible to create gardens in one of the world’s hottest countries, but that these gardens can thrive. The communities that work in the gardens have access to irrigation techniques that strengthen their abilities and knowledge of agricultural practices just like Salamatou.

 
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