Feb 2, 2011

Food Aid Project a Success.....Thanks to You!

In Aragh, smiling faces after a long summer.
In Aragh, smiling faces after a long summer.

RAIN is happy to share that through the support of our GlobalGiving friends, along with help from the Zakat Foundation, The Prem Rawat Foundation, and Rotary International, our Emergency Food Aid effort has been fully funded!

Throughout this past summer, nomadic families watched helplessly as their crops withered, their animals perished, and children languished from hunger as a fearsome drought wound its way through West Africa. In Foudouk, partner communities suffered a 40% loss of their animals. Many villages told the same story - food supplies at rock bottom, in both homes and schools. RAIN responded with a call of action to our supporters, and some new friends, too. The call was heard and the response has been amazing. Emergency supplies of grain, legumes, oil, and animal feed began making its way to eagerly awaiting communities, some of whom were new to RAIN. Entire villages traveled to their schools to welcome the aid, even assisting with transport when needed. RAIN staff were rewarded upon arrival with smiles and expressions of relief and joy.

Inspired by these efforts, the Zakat Foundation came forward with timely support that averted hunger for many families. However, even after the rain returned and the land began to show the promise of green, families bereft of their livestock and food stores still remained at risk.  The Prem Rawat Foundation stepped in to ensure the food aid continued into the year. Rotary International boosted food supplies in the village of Bon Feba. Destroyed school market gardens are being restored, the animals that are essential to survival are being fed, and children are returning to schools that can provide food once again.

RAIN would like to extend our deepest gratitude on behalf of all the families brought back from the edge of famine - you have restored hope and smiles in the wake of a tremendous ordeal. Tanmeert.  

Back to school in Awiderer!
Back to school in Awiderer!
A happy mother in Mayat.
A happy mother in Mayat.
Jan 11, 2011

RAIN Brings a Garden and New Life to Bonfeba!

Bonfeba countryside, a lush landscape for Niger.
Bonfeba countryside, a lush landscape for Niger.

There are a number of organizations that donate food to some of Niger’s schools each year.  These gifts are generous and appreciated, but once the food is gone, the same barren schools with the same hungry children remain.  Not so for Bonfeba. 

Bonfeba is a village located on the Niger River, in the Tillaberi region, approximately a two-hour journey from the capital, Niamey.  Though the village does have a state run boarding school, enrollment has been historically low due to lack of food or supplies at the school for the children. Without sustainable agriculture, Bonfeba, like many communities in Niger, had no food reserves to carry through the harsh summer of drought and food shortages.

With RAIN's help, along with the parents of Bonfeba, Rotary International, and supporters like you, Bonfeba is getting a leg up. This fall, a half-acre school market garden has been installed - complete with well, cistern and drip irrigation system.  RAIN is introducing the community to drip irrigation to provide an ideal flow of water to the garden, while using much less water than traditional irrigation methods do. This garden will grow fresh food for the children, as well as produce cash crops to pay garden expenses and generate funds for the school, which has 247 children -- many of whom must live there while their parents search for pasture land. The garden project also includes a surrounding fence to protect it from animals, a motor pump to pull water from the well, and a gardener salary for the first three months.

Not only will the students of Bonfeba school now have food to eat, but the whole community will have clean drinking water for the very first time as a result of this project. Bonfeba is located beside a shallow and stagnant pool of water that served as the community’s only source of drinking water until RAIN dug Bonfeba’s first well. This water will bring better health to hundreds who regularly suffer from dysentery and other illnesses caused by a polluted water supply.

The village chief of Bonfeba, Dr. Bako, expressed to RAIN staff Abdou Koini: “This modern garden brings much hope for future food security in Bonfeba. It gives us the possibility of generating food, along with money to help the school.  In the view of this community, this garden project is salutary!”

With the kids now in school and the community poised to support itself through future tough times, we think you'll agree!

Bonfeba garden gate.
Bonfeba garden gate.
Students at Bonfeba school eating lunch.
Students at Bonfeba school eating lunch.
New hope for children of Bonfeba!
New hope for children of Bonfeba!
Students and teachers welcome much needed supplies
Students and teachers welcome much needed supplies
Drip irrigation for the Bonfeba garden.
Drip irrigation for the Bonfeba garden.
Dec 2, 2010

Health Education of Mentors Underway!

Women mentors in Gougaram at their first training.
Women mentors in Gougaram at their first training.

RAIN Mentor Health Education Training Underway!

By Ibrahim (Michel) Boubacar
Director of Programs, RAIN Niger

On November 15, 2010, I found myself, along with RAIN Program Assistant, Mohamoud Mouta, on a rough and dusty journey to Gougaram and Iferouane – villages in the Air Mountains of northern Niger. Our mission: to launch the new Health Education Training Program with the mentors in our Girls Mentoring and Scholarship Program, an initiative possible by the Izumi Foundation, and of course, supporters like you!

First Stop: Gougaram. Ten new women mentors were recruited in Gougaram to recognize Niger’s most common and serious childhood diseases in their early phases and refer the children to health care.  They will also educate families and community members about the prevention and treatment of these diseases. The mentors learned of the importance of this new program and its goals of treatment and prevention of these dangerous maladies.

During the training, the mentors shared their current ideas about hygiene and related subjects. Mentors were taught about diseases such as meningitis, diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia, and measles, in concrete and precise terms.  They learned the causes, symptoms, means of transmission, and methods of prevention.

Next Stop: Iferouāne. Ten women mentors were selected to participate in the program in Iferouane, all of whom have collaborated with RAIN in previous years. Two of the mentors also volunteered to serve on the Management Board. Much like the process in Gougaram, the trainer spoke to the mentors about different health issues in the area, especially the principal diseases the program wishes to prevent.

As always, I am amazed by the willingness, energy and enthusiasm of our mentors. These women already volunteer much time and effort in their mentoring roles to students, and now are investing even more time and effort to be able to offer such a valuable service to their students as well as to their communities.

The new school year is just underway in Niger, and we are excited to see how the mentors apply their newfound health knowledge.  I hope to see concrete changes in children’s health by the end of the year!  RAIN communities improve as a direct result of all their own hard work!

I’ll keep you posted.  

Formation of the mentor team in Iferouane.
Formation of the mentor team in Iferouane.
 
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