Apr 14, 2011

Solar Ovens Add Value to School Market Gardens

Onion tops are an important staple
Onion tops are an important staple

RAIN's School Market Gardens provide food for students, income for the community and the school, and teach sustainable agriculture.  How else can the garden provide increased benefits to the community? 

The answer: solar ovens.  In the remote regions of Niger where RAIN's partner communities live, electricity is not available, and refrigeration is not a viable option to preserve food.  Traditionally, drying is the preferred method in the Sahara to extend the life of food from times of plenty through more scarcer times.  Solar ovens were created exactly for that purpose, and increase the capacity of a community to store and transport food.

This valuable addition to our School Market Gardens is getting its very first try out in the village of Bonfeba in the Tillaberi region. Bonfeba has worked hard to plant their new garden and dig the communities' first well with RAIN. As the first crops come in, a women's cooperative will begin drying tomatoes, onions and peppers with the new solar oven. Tomatoes are an important staple in the nomadic diet, and along with the peppers and onion tops, fortify sauces for childrens meals and are the basis of many soups. When the first fruit trees come in, fruits such as mangos and papyas will also be dried by the women. 

Once dried, the food can then be stored in jars and either kept for the school or sold in local markets, the funds to be invested back into the community and school. 

We expect this to be a good stride forward towards food security for Bonfeba, and plan to introduce more solar ovens to future partner communities as an integral part of the RAIN School Market Garden program!

Drying is the timeless method of food preservation
Drying is the timeless method of food preservation
Bess meets with community of Bonfeba
Bess meets with community of Bonfeba

Links:

Apr 7, 2011

New Cooperative in Agadez!

Cool Water Co-Op: Purses
Cool Water Co-Op: Purses

RAIN, in partnership with ten Tuareg women from Agadez,  has created a new artisan cooperative:  Aman Sanodnan, or "Cool Water."  From a Tuareg proverb - one walks in the hot desert searching for water, always disappointed, but you must go on – you are about to give up, when you come upon a well. And the water is cool and good.  At last your work is rewarded, you have come in from the hot sun and found the shade.  The women chose this name to signify that after much hard work with little reward, they have found the cool water of RAIN. 

These highly skilled artisans are working with locally produced leather to make purses, cell phone cases, ceremonial wallets, and traditional Tuareg tassels, which adorn their camel saddles.  RAIN is waiting eagerly for the new items to arrive, so we can introduce them to the U.S., and so that our friends here can have a little piece of Niger.

Also in Agadez, the Wodaabe women of the MCV embroidery cooperative are hard at work creating beautiful tote bags and purses.  They are now working with an established woman tailor, making it truly an all-woman enterprise.  The new tailor has many new design ideas for the group. The finished pieces will not only go to be sold in the U.S., but with the help of RAIN staff, be sold in markets in Niger, as well.

The investment you've made in these women continues to grow as they "learn and earn," for their children and community..... we'll let you know when their items are available for sale and keep you updated on their progress.

Cool Water Co-Op: Ceremonial Wallets
Cool Water Co-Op: Ceremonial Wallets
Cool Water Co-Op: Phone Cases
Cool Water Co-Op: Phone Cases
MCV Co-Op: Tote Bags
MCV Co-Op: Tote Bags
Oumou Ama: Cool Water Co-Op
Oumou Ama: Cool Water Co-Op
Hadiza Gado: Cool Water Co-Op
Hadiza Gado: Cool Water Co-Op

Links:

Mar 1, 2011

Fatimata and Ahmed - Personal Stories

Ahmed Illias
Ahmed Illias

Here are two personal stories from Gougaram and Iferoune about how the RAIN Mentoring and Scholarship are changing lives.

Ahmed Illias

My name is Ahmed Illias. I am a member of the parent committee at the Iferouāne elementary school. Before the RAIN Mentoring and Scholarship Program, our school had difficulties with student attendance. Twenty percent of students were regularly absent due to sickness, or because illiterate parents did not regard schooling as a priority.

Today, with the RAIN mentoring and scholarship program, the community is aware of the importance of education, and sick students are immediately brought to the health clinic for treatment. We’ve seen attendance rise to 95%, and can testify that this success is a direct result of the support of the mentors. The added value of learning practical skills attracts students and parents alike, because it prepares them for the future with the desire to have a trade, and to take part in the development of our country.

On behalf our community, and particularly our students, I would like to thank RAIN and the individuals who support RAIN.

Fatimata Rhissa

My name is Fatimata Rhissa. I am the mother of Amina Souleymane, a student at the Gougaram school. She is my only child and all I have in the world. I am divorced, and my former husband left the country some years ago to find work. I engage in small income generating activities to provide for our needs, and those of my parents. I offer plait braiding in downtown Arlit to many visitors who travel near our encampment. But with the conflict and the displacement that comes with it, my work has not been generating income. We have suffered much hardship.

Before the mentoring program came to our community, I did not want my daughter to attend school. I thought she should be at home to help me with domestic tasks and to keep our goats. After meetings with the RAIN mentors, I become more sensitized to the importance of bringing my daughter to school instead of having her stay at home. With the practical skills she has been learning, I now have confidence in my daughter, who is already starting to embroider. I can say that my daughter is thankful for the skills training and the counsel of the mentors, who now have a primary role in preparing her for the future.

Fatimata Rhissa
Fatimata Rhissa

Links:

 
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