BENEFITING: RAIN FOR THE SAHEL AND SAHARA INC
In rural Niger, a good education, like rain, is scarce - especially for girls:
- Only 1 in 2 progress past the fourth grade.
- 1 in 3 is married before the age of 15.
- More than a third die during childbirth.
Girls in our remote desert partner communities are at a disadvantage in several ways – their families suffer from poverty, illiteracy, a challenging environment, and few opportunities to support themselves. Early marriage contributes to poverty and overpopulation, creating an unending cycle of lost potential. Though the country is growing, without access to education and opportunities, the future appears bleak for nomadic people in Niger.
RAIN’s Mentoring Program recruits local women volunteers as mentors to help at-risk girls stay and succeed in primary school despite cultural and economic pressures. Girls learn about health and hygiene, practical skills, and receive life guidance, forming strong bonds with their mentors and returning to school each year in numbers 20% greater than their peers. Over the last eight years, our mentoring program has enjoyed proven success. Today, over 200 women mentors support 900 + nomadic children in seventeen schools across the Agadez and Tillberi regions of Niger.
Investing in a girl's future is investing in the world's future. Girls that stay in school delay marriage, have fewer children and develop more durable livelihoods.
"Before the mentoring program came to our community, I did not want my daughter to attend school. I thought she should be at home to help me with domestic tasks and to keep our goats. After meetings with the RAIN mentors, I become more sensitized to the importance of bringing my daughter to school instead of having her stay at home. With the practical skills she has been learning, I now have confidence in my daughter, who is already starting to embroider. I can say that my daughter is thankful for the skills training and the counsel of the mentors, who now have a primary role in preparing her for the future." - Mother Fatimata Rhissa, Gougaram
RAIN is about mutual support between families and community members, and our mentoring program is the best example of this dynamic network. The artisanal craft skills girls learn from their mentors not only serve to make school more attractive to parents - they can boost the economic stability of a student's entire family. After mastering creation of items such as key chains, winnowing pans, purses or embroidered sheets, mentored students will often begin selling their products in local markets, saving some for their school expenses and contributing the rest to their families. They frequently pass on the skills they've learned to their family members, and parents ease up on their demands for their children to be at home. The student develops confidence and a sense of independence.
“I have learned a lot of things through my mentor. She talks with us about health, telling us to be sure to wash our hands before and after we eat and to wash our clothes regularly. She also helps us understand about education with examples about its importance. I share what I learn with my parents and with my friends.” - Safiatou Nilil, Lemdou