RAIN's Abdou Garba at the Mari School Market Garde
I’m just back from Niger. I’m sure many of you have seen in the news that it’s a time of drought and hunger there. It’s difficult to be in Niger's countryside and see the parched earth, the desperation and hunger in people’s faces. The situation is worsened by refuges arriving from Mali and other neighboring countries that are experiencing war or fragile political situations. Despite the hardships they are suffering the people of Niger are proud that their country remains a peaceful, united one.
In this season when the land looks like endless sand and dust, it is almost miraculous to come upon a green RAIN school market garden. I visited the hamlet of Mari in Tillabery two weeks ago. The school’s garden was flourishing, bursting with vegetables for the children to eat. The gardener reported that about 40% of the produce is eaten by the children while 60% is sold to buy food staples such as grain and pay the garden’s expenses. A truly sustainable, long-term program for improving children’s health and nutrition, while helping their school.
At RAIN we believe in creating an integrated set of programs for developing livelihoods and supporting schools. In Mari we have a mentor program and are currently building a garden and teaching the 99 women of the Mari garden cooperative about nutrition and organic gardening techniques.
I met with the Mari school director. He told me that since 2009, when RAIN began its programs in Mari, school enrollment has shot up from 65 to 233 students. Bravo Mari! Bravo to all of you supporting RAIN!
Much gratitude and best regards to all, Bess Palmisciano
Mari schoolchildren -- their numbers have tripled!
The start of the garden for 99 women
A Tuareg woman, one of the 99 in the garden co-op
The garden will help support the women + school
At nutrition class with teacher Halima