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.