Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. Girls of rural nomadic families struggle to stay in school, working against cultural norms and poverty, dropping out after the third grade. Nomadic families don't always understand the value of education and need their children at home to help. Early marriage contributes to poverty and overpopulation, creating an unending cycle of lost potential. Though the country is growing, without education the future is bleak for nomadic people.
Mentors meet weekly with girls, counseling and teaching practical skills. They advise them regarding health, sexuality, and avoidance of early marriage, and advocate for them with parents who don't see the value of education and with teachers when they fall behind. The practical skills the girls learn motivates parents to keep them in school and fosters independence. The local women serving as mentors gain community esteem, new livelihoods through enterprise and Savings & Loan initiatives.
Mentoring at-risk girls succeeding in school and raises the value of education community wide. Girls that stay in school delay marriage, have fewer children and develop more durable livelihoods. Communities with mentoring programs increase in attendance, and mentored girls are now graduating middle school, the first to do so. Mentors engage in income generating activities like herding, investing a portion into the program, and form savings & loan groups - increasing their economic security.
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