Mar 2, 2018

From a Mentors Perspective

“An enormous number of NGOs have poured tons of money into communities but they leave and then what? We need programs that teach skills and create relationships that will endure.”
– Alhassene Aboubacar, Director of RAIN’s Agadez Learning Center.

Mentor: Safi Guili: Every time that we get ready to start something I invite all of my sponsored students, group everybody together, and discuss with them step by step. There are different challenges that I encounter while working as a mentor. Every time one presents something unknown, there will be difficulties.

 

For example – since the younger girls have never seen how to make a Tabarma mat, how would they know how? So I need to explain things little by little. I have to provide many examples in order for them to understand learning the craft.

 

If after I have done some sessions with girls, and they still have not come to understand the weaving, I have to look for another method to help them understand.

 

In order to make a tabarma mat you must select the right kind of thick straw and buy dye and get an animal skin. To explain I get all of my students in one place. Each one looks for a small stick to wrap with the twine coming from their piece of leather. Then, the pieces of thick straw, already soft after being soaked in water, are placed aside. We pull the cords to a certain distance to create tension on the loom and we fix them in place with a wooden peg in the ground. Sometimes, when weaving with the cord, the girls get lost. I re-explain to them what they need to do to fix it. The girl will follow me and after giving many examples they come to understand.

 

I talk with the girls about education and health issues in addition to the craft training. Before the program, the girls did not know how to make the mats, but with this program, they learn how. They can now make winnowing pans and with guidance from their mentor, a tabarma mat.

 

Mentoring has changed my life in many ways. Now I lead discussions about education. I mobilize our community the best I can. For example, at the start of each year, I go around the village and hamlets in order to look for school-age children to enroll in school. This past school year, I bought 8 new students - 4 girls and 4 boys – to attend.

Feb 12, 2018

Women's Gardens Giving Hope

We partner with local communities providing women’s community gardens for rural people of Niger. These gardens are maintained by the women throughout the year. With irrigated water systems people are able to plant for the entire year, which was impossible before. There is an increasing need for food and water security in Niger. There is even a season called the Hunger Season, in which there is little to no water available. Many Nigeriens would say that the lack of water is a normal occurrence however and during the Hunger Season their struggle is made far worse.

There is a saying that the local Tuareg have for RAIN, “RAIN is the one that comes back.” It is a powerful message as many other organizations working in the area work and then leave without a sustainable way to continue forward. That is what RAIN does, by partnering with these communities a trusting bond has developed. RAIN’s programs focus on community development aiming for a self-sustaining platform to form. By partnering with these groups they are able to work hands-on, gaining knowledge and experience.  

“My home is made of adobe bricks walls, eucalyptus branch support beams, covered with reed mats, and the roof is sealed with adobe. There are a front room and a bedroom and I have a sitting area outside with adobe walls and millet-stalk shade-canopy porch. We tie the stalks together to create a solid structure to block the hot sun. When it is too hot in the rooms, we sit on the enclosed porch. I cook outside with a pot on three rocks. When my daughter comes home from school she helps me with the cooking and cleaning. With twins now, things are very difficult for me.

What else can I tell you about my home? I have a bed and basic household supplies like a mortar and pestle, some cooking pots, calabash gourds, two plastic jugs for fetching water, and a bench and stool to sit on when myself or my daughter cook. I also have 3 goats and 4 sheep. When times are difficult, we can sell them for food, medicine, clothes, or we kill one for a holiday so that we can eat meat. It is the only time that we really eat meat. I also have a grass-reed mat-making area.

“Our village is made up of Ighawalan Tuaregs. Our work is making tabarma (grass-reed) mats. Our husbands are millet farmers and herders. Many men also go to the coast to work. We have an elementary school. This year, they started a middle school but our children are studying in grass-mat classrooms, some them sit in the dirt to study. We have a small health hut, too, but there is not always medicine in it. Women need to walk or ride donkey-cart several miles if they want to see a doctor while pregnant or to weigh babies for the first few months after they are born.”

            Women just like Hariatou are enduring these hardships, but also are beginning to have access to more opportunities. The women community gardens feed hundreds of families and the number of participating women continues to grow. These changes are what is needed in rural Niger to encourage a strong local economy.  These gardens are stimulating growth and creating a sustainable living for these magnificent people. The future of these ethnic groups livelihood and their culture lies in sustainable living and community development.

Feb 7, 2018

Bring Lights and Education to Niger

 Mouda an Agadez Learning Center student came to the Center from a place of poverty and lack of opportunity. She is a motivated and bright individual. Many of the other children her age cannot continue their education past primary school, due to distance, lack of funds, or parents that would rather have them help around the home.  The ALC houses motivated and determined children like Mouda and allow them to continue their education. The Center provides a living space for students that would not have access to secondary school. Students are provided with afterschool lessons from local teachers, food, water, electricity, traditional crafts, and life skills lessons. Progress is being made on many fronts. We have designs for an expansion to the center that would include: a separated girl’s restroom, facility for the director to live on site (for extra security), and the solar computer lab/classroom.

Currently, the Center can house fifty students. RAIN currently is sponsoring 31 students. With these added facilities students will be able to have access to the internet and learn about things that they have never dreamed of. In expanding these students will have more opportunities and be better prepared for the future.

 "My parents are poor and cannot help with my education. When we compare our lives with our friends who aren’t at the center, it is easy to see that we have so many more opportunities than other girls. We hope that our other friends can also benefit from RAIN's support." - ALC Student Mouda

Students like Mouda need to be supported in order to have a voice. They have the solar equipment, now they just need the building. Help us create a more sustainable future for these at-risk children. During this troubling time right before the “hunger season,” the ALC will need as much help as possible, so will our partner communities.

With your support, Mouda and others like her will have the chance to change their lives and communities. It starts with you, you are the catalyst for change! 

 
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