In Niger, 90% of girls don’t have the chance to go to school – and 1 in 3 will marry before their 15th birthday. Rural families fighting for survival don’t always understand the value of education – that girls who complete primary school marry later and have healthier children – and that each year she is in school, her community becomes more resilient to poverty.
With your help, wer'e beating the odds for at-risk girls in remote desert communities by ensuring access to an education with the most effective change makers on the ground: women mentors.
160 mentors act as local ambassadors of education for more than 600 girls in 17 schools, bridging the gap between school and home life. Determined to give the next generation options they never had, mentors actively address obstacles keeping a girl from school. Impending marriage plans, illness or economic household pressures - case by case, they engage with families as a trusted neighbor and advisor. The girls form strong bonds with their mentors and are succeeding in school at unprecedented levels.
These stories from the field of girls and their mentors are great testimonies to this dynamic support in action that you’ve helped to make possible.
A sixth grader in the community of Lemdou, Safiatou failed to pass the government test required to progress to middle school. She moved back home, ready to abandon school forever. The school director became concerned when she did not come to class, and immediately contacted her mentor, Assamhat. Assamhat walked the ten miles to Safiatou's home to meet with her parents, who were unaware that she had the option to repeat the grade. The very next day, Safiatou once again rejoined her peers in class for a second chance.
“I have learned a lot of things through my mentor...she also teaches us how to make crafts. Once I make something well, I can also teach my little sisters, my friends and anyone else that wants to learn. There are many difficulties I face in order to study well. I help prepare meals, get water from the well, and go into the bush for firewood. Once, I became sick. My mentor came to visit me at home. After that, she went to school to explain to my teacher that I was sick and could not go to school."
Assalama – Iferouane Mentor & President
“I have learned so much with the mentoring program. I help girls to understand important issues concerning their lives like early marriage and how to manage their menstrual cycles for those that reach the age of puberty.
One day a woman was telling me that she was concerned about some girls that would group together at night. She was concerned that they were up to no good. So one evening she listened to what the girls were talking about. One of the girls told her friends she had her period and did not know how to approach anyone. One of my students said, ‘My mentor is always helping us with different problems and talks with us about things like this. She even goes around to the classes at school to talk with us about health issues, too.' We are like a network of mothers.”
Mentor Houdeyja, Community of Ingui
“There are enormous challenges that I face. Parents do not give education any value. They force their children to marry young and push them to go to school when they are sick. But the parents do really understand and work with me a lot. To work on these challenges, it’s necessary to raise awareness from village to village about the benefits of education. My work as a mentor changes the lives of the students I help. None of the girls I mentor have married early. Parents let their children finish school."
Hadjara - Sixth grader, Bonfeba
"My mentor teaches me things and advises me so that I can succeed in life. I told my parents one day when my mentor spoke with us about school. My parents like what my mentor does for me. I told them that she talked with us about not being late for school and that she advised us to do more studying at home rather than going to play or watch movies at the neighborhood TV spot."
Hadiza - Sixth grade, Tagantassou
"I have learned a lot from things my mentor has explained to me. She tells me not to miss class. She tells me to try to push my friends that are not in school to come to enroll in school. She talks to me about things like hygiene, the importance of going to school, and about how to make things."
Now is the time to expand our team of mentors, so that more at-risk girls can succeed with an advocate, advisor and devoted friend by their side for the coming school year and beyond. With your continued support and the work of dedicated mentors in the field, we can get nomadic girls back to school and back on the road to greater health and opportunity.
Assamhat and Safiatou
Assalama with her mentored girls.
The girls of Lemdou