Jul 14, 2020

Support is Vital During Tough Times

This has been an especially challenging period in Niger. The country had its first case of coronavirus in late March and the government reacted swiftly - they shut the borders, limited transit within the country, closed schools from Kindergarten through University, and asked people to remain home if possible. The government's reaction was necessary - Niger simply doesn't have the medical infrastructure to deal with a widespread outbreak. Unfortunately, as we've seen in many other countries, the impact of the virus goes well beyond the virus itself. Closing borders and limiting transportation stalled supply chains. It became harder to access basic necessities and as stockpiles dwindled, prices soared. RAIN's partner communities - poor, remote villages - are some of the hardest hit. 

In April, David Beasley, the head of the World Food Program, announced that we could expect to see famines of "biblical propotions" across the globe. THIS is what our partner communities feared - not coronavirus, but starvation. In this way, COVID reiterated the importance of communities being able to meet their basic needs locally. Rural and nomadic communities without access to safe water are at significant risk if the coronavirus or another disease infiltrates the population. Additionally, community garden and herding initiatives provide a layer of security for communities to provide for themselves. Now, more than ever, our partner communities need your support - local access to water and food is always critical but right now it is also urgent. 

 Thank you for your generosity and for standing by these communities in need. Please consider sharing this opportunity with your friends and family - none of us can do it alone.

Links:

Jul 14, 2020

Support is Vital During Tough Times

This has been an especially challenging period in Niger. The country had its first case of coronavirus in late March and the government reacted swiftly - they shut the borders, asked people to remain home, and closed schools from Kindergarten through University. The government's reaction was necessary - Niger simply doesn't have the medical infrastructure to deal with a widespread outbreak. Unfortunately, as we've seen in many other countries, the impact of the virus goes well beyond the virus itself. 

Niger holds one of the highest rates of “education poverty” in the world, reflecting the reality that Niger’s population, while largely under 15, is not consistently enrolled in or attending school. Among girls, just 4% complete primary school and a paltry 2% complete secondary school.

This year, RAIN’s Mentoring program worked with 133 women across 21 communities to support 665 youth. Enrollment increased by 37% including a remarkable 62% increase among girls. But now, with coronavirus, that is all at risk. With school closures and families tightening their wallets to make it through the crisis, education takes a backseat. RAIN must remain alongside its partner communities and shore up support to ensure the progress that has been made is not lost. We know our mentors are key to keeping education a community-priority, even during COVID.

Fortunately, the government’s COVID response is working and schools reopened in late May. RAIN worked with our partner schools to deliver over 40 cartons of soap and establish washing stations for students to use when entering or exiting the classroom. In communities without running water, maintaining this hygiene in group settings - such as a school - is critical to continued health and, of course, continued education. 

We see a bright future for our mentored students in Niger – we ask that you stand alongside us to ensure that that future comes to pass. Thank you for your generosity and for standing by these communities in need. Please consider sharing this opportunity with your friends and family - none of us can do it alone.

Links:

Mar 23, 2020

Say "Cheese!"

Last month when I was in Niger, Fatima invited my into her home in Etaghas, Niger. She was just wrapping up the process of making goat cheese - using a flexible reed mat to squeeze out the excess liquid and shape the cheese.

In meeting with Fatima and her neigbors, we discussed the importance of goat herding for Nigerien women.

In these communities, having a herd is like having a savings account. It's a way to build up your assets, to own something independently, to have something you can sell if your children or family has an urgent need. Having a goat herd gives women greater autonomy and indepenendence. 

It also serves another purpose - integral in Nigerien culture: it makes it easier to be a generous host, even to unexpected guests. Having goats means you always have milk to offer, maybe even fresh cheese or yogurt. This ability to be a consumate host meant as much to Fatima and her neighbors as anything else the program offers them.

Fatima was thrilled to share her cheese with us... and we were thrilled to eat it! 

 
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