Jan 12, 2012

Halima's Story

Halima at SAFEM, Agadez 2012
Halima at SAFEM, Agadez 2012

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!

Albaye Co-operative Purse
Albaye Co-operative Purse

Links:

Jan 12, 2012

Transforming Gardens into Classrooms

Halima Hamza Malam
Halima Hamza Malam

Many children in RAIN’s partner communities are semi-nomadic, and will likely grow up to become farmers like their parents. As in all partner communities, the school garden in Lemdou of the Tillaberi region of Niger acts as a living classroom where children, teachers and parents come together for training in sustainable, organic farming techniques.  

Children and adults alike learn by practicing these methods, including drip irrigation, in order to better prepare them as stewards of development in their community. RAIN gardens provide nutritious food for students, help to keep the school in operation, and are a direct initiative to building a better future with and for the children through access to education, both inside and outside the classroom. Starting in 2012, RAIN will establish an experimental program in certain communities to instruct children, with a special focus on young girls, the principles of sustainable farming. In West Africa, it is the women who are often the primary planters and caretakers of crops. With this new educational program, RAIN hopes to effect measurable increase in food production within this generation.  Your donation is not only increasing food security for schoolchildren and their families, but supporting a new generation of women who will teach the next techniques that will enhance the lives of all members of the community.

Our staff in Niger are just now concluding their most recent tournee (field research) to identify new garden sites in the coming year.  Soon, those gardens will begin growing, transforming the surrounding community with the tools for a more food secure future.  Happy New Year to all of you, from all of your nomadic friends!

Be sure to visit our new website as we add photo galleries, videos, newsletters and more at  www.rain4sahara.org!

Photo Collage: Lemdou Garden
Photo Collage: Lemdou Garden

Links:

Nov 23, 2011

Artlit Mentors and Herding - One Year Later

Mentors in Arlit
Mentors in Arlit

This October, Bess visited a group of our mentors in Arlit to see how our mentoring programs were starting out in the new school year.

RAIN’s mentoring and scholarship program has succeeded beyond our hopes, in ways we never imagined.  Most of the women in this rural African region are illiterate, yet they come to school each week to encourage their girls to stay in school and to succeed. They teach traditional crafts, which offer future earning opportunities for the girls. The surprise was that the experience motivated the mentors to become literate.  In response, RAIN has offered bi-lingual literacy classes to the mentors, who are jumping in with flying colors.

How to make an education program self-sustaining? The mentors love the program; they readily agreed to earn, with RAIN’s help, money to buy their own materials for the craft classes. This is a nomadic region of herders.  The women told us that if RAIN bought them some starter goats, they would keep a herd to support the program and help them out, too. 

A year later, we find that the goats are thriving and multiplying. The women keep the female goats for milk and cheese for their families, and sell the males to generate money to pay for their practical skills materials.

Stories like these show us that with committed and motivated partners, education can be self-supporting! Education is a long-term goal --- we are committed to seeing these girls through school for as long as they can attend. 

It costs $2,500 to develop a cooperative enterprise, such as herding, with each group of 20 mentors.  That’s $125 to give six school girls a leg up and support 20 dedicated mentors. We call that a great return on a great investment!  We’re so grateful to be sharing these exciting success stories, which wouldn’t happen without you.

Mentors learning animal husbandry techniques
Mentors learning animal husbandry techniques
Practical skills give girls earning power.
Practical skills give girls earning power.
Mentors in class.
Mentors in class.
 
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