Azahara Mohamed learning practical skills
Two nomadic girls in Akokan were at-risk, now they're succeeding with your help.
Azahara Mohamed is a student in the RAIN mentoring program in the nomadic community of Akokan, located in the remote northern area of Arlit. Azahara is from a very vulnerable family, whose mother is on her own in raising Azahara and her three brothers by cleaning homes in the city. Many of her girlfriends who were not in school influenced her to attend infrequently and fall behind in her studies when she first began in the mentoring program. Her mentor has counseled her in life issues and has taught her how to embroider sheets, a skill which she is now employing to sell sheets to local women, helping her mother to support their family.
Fatima Moussa is a nomadic girl identified by RAIN as having a high risk of dropping out of school, and was enrolled in the mentoring program. At first, Fatima was a serious student, ranked fourth in her class. Suddenly, she stopped taking notes, was frequently absent and her grades began to fall. Her mentor, Mariama Moussa, asked her what was happening. Fatima disclosed that her parents were discouraging her from attending school, already earmarking her to marry. Her mentor talked with her parents about the importance of girls' education and the consequences of early marriage. Fatima’s parents thanked Mariama for her work as a mentor and for raising their awareness.
Now, Fatima is back to working hard in school, and for the 2011-2012 school year, ranked in the top five of her class, passing her examinations to proceed onto the next level.
Recently, a friend of Fatima who married very early had to undergo a surgical operation to survive her first delivery. Together with Fatima’s success in school, awareness has been raised on the part of the community about the consequences for young girls engaging in early marriage and pregnancy. In Akokan, more parents are now coming forward to assert that their daughters finish their studies before considering marriage.
Stories of success aren't only for the girls - but for the mentors helping them, too.
The Akokan women's mentor group of Arlit first began in 2005. Since then, they've come to know and trust each other, and have created a strong partnership with the local school, supporting themselves and their program with a herd of goats provided by RAIN. The next goal: achieve sustainability for the 16 mentors and 82 at-risk girls for the next two years.
When asked what new activity they would like to pursue to generate more funds, the women expressed that creating a group enterprise would be difficult, that they prefer a program that will allow them to work independently. And so the idea of a savings and loan program to support each member's own enterprise was mutually proposed.
Income generating activities that these loans have supported include the practice of embouche (purchasing of a small goat that is then fattened to sell), making food products for sale at the local market, making and selling clothes, and augmenting the goat herds provided by RAIN. All members have reported a profit.
Encouraged by the Akokan women, RAIN hopes to initiate savings and loan programs in each of our partner communities to further support the development of livelihoods.
Fatima and her mentor Mariama
Akokan Mentors 2012