Located in the northern Agadez Air Massif region of Niger, Iferouane has a population of 5,000, comprised mostly of nomadic Tuareg people who practice animal husbandry, small scale farming and small enterprise. The women practice handcrafts and small trade.
In 2007, Iferouane was the site of the Second Tuareg Rebellion. Due to the insecurity caused by the rebellion, the residents had been without food for a number of weeks and many fled to Arlit or Agadez, staying in exile for nearly two years. In 2009, 90% of the population returned and began again, despite the damage to their homes, crops and school.
Iférouane is at the heart of the nomadic area of Niger, which is why many children come from the surrounding encampments to attend school. Iférouane has a primary school and a high school, however, many parents are reluctant to send girls to attend.
The challenges facing the community of Iférouane include extreme poverty, lack of educational opportunities, food and water shortages, and few opportunities for women, much like all rural nomadic areas in Niger. Girls in communities such as Iferouane are at a disadvantage in several ways – their families suffer from poverty, illiteracy, a challenging environment, and few opportunities to support themselves.
In Iferouane, the RAIN mentoring program is making a real difference in the lives of the girls who receive support and encouragement from their mentors: higher grades, better school attendance and retention levels, along with higher rates of continuation of their studies into the future. Two mentors had their ten girls graduate from primary school, and are still acting as mentors into secondary school.
We’d like to share one story of progress and success of a RAIN mentor in Iferouane:
“My name is Hawa Almoustapha, and I’m one of the ten mentors in the RAIN program to ensure access to education for nomadic children. At the start of each school year, RAIN team members help us launch our mentoring for the most vulnerable girls in our school. Our mentoring program, which began several years ago with primary school girls, has seen all the participants progress into the secondary level. All of us mentors are very proud of our students as they succeed in their studies and continue to perform well at the secondary levels. We have no doubt that all 56 girls will have the tools and the courage to stay in school succeed.
This year, RAIN has invested in mentors to begin a savings and credit system to boost our income generating activities and eventually support the mentoring program in part. The goal for each mentor is to save 250 CFA ($.50 USD) each week to grow our mutual fund. To date, our fund has reached 107,000 FCFA ($238 USD).
Based on these funds, along with the others mentors I received a loan of 20,000 FCFA ($45 USD), which allowed me to start a small business of selling seasoning products from my home to earn some income. With this new activity, I make a small profit margin that allows my business to grow and satisfy some of my children’s needs. It’s our hope to save sufficient funds to support the mentoring program and our families in the long term.”
Please accept the warmest thanks from both the girls and their mentors for making such a lasting difference in their lives!