"I learn something new every day. With each round of the RAIN team in our village, we learn many things, either about the children, or health, or questions relating to the school. That is important. Moreover, I’ve become an asset to my community - before the mentoring program, our children did not regularly attend school and did not practice daily hygiene. This is changing, and I am proud of that." - Mrs. Jadatta, Mentor - Community of Tangoushman
Mentors are trained to recognize the early signs of the most common diseases, referring students for treatment and following up with parents, who in turn are increasingly bringing their children for treatment when they are sick.
In addition to poor health, reasons for extended absence from school may include:
value of education for girls,
positive influence an educated mother has on her family's’ health and education
dangers of too-early pregnancies,
improved livelihoods of educated women
roles In society for educated women
health and hygiene
teaching of practical and artisanal skills
counseling and communication skills
Mentors go to homes to discuss the importance of education with parents. They ask questions and are good listeners – and the stories emerge. And, most often, the girl continues in school, mentor by her side. These are very small communities, and word spreads quickly, sometimes hastening a change in response.
Mentors Change Lives
Safiatou, a student mentored by Assamhat Kamay in the Tillaberi community of Lemdou, was among those who did not pass her 6th grade exam last year. After failing, she moved back with her parents in Tinnaboa, about 10 miles from Lemdou. Not realizing she had the option to repeat the grade, her parents didn’t send Safiatou back to school in the fall.
The Lemdou school director, Ayouba Salamoune, became concerned when Safiatou failed to return. Students often return late at the start of the year, due to helping at home with harvesting or seeking herd pasture, family relocation during the rainy season, or religious holidays. Ayouba contacted Assamhat to ask about Safiatou’s whereabouts. Assamhat proceeded to walk the 10 miles to Tinnaboa to investigate her absence. She confirmed that her parents were aware that the school year had started but didn’t realize their daughter could still attend. Assamhat successfully resolving the misunderstanding and Safiatou rejoined her friends at school for a second chance.
The result of all this support? Girls who were deemed at-risk are now performing higher than their peers, and schools are seeing unprecedented increases in enrollment and attendance. Communities are seeing the first girls ever graduate from primary school.
RAIN MENTORS BECOME ‘WISE WOMEN’
RAIN for the Sahel and Sahara is a nonprofit 501(c)3 working to make a lasting difference in Africa.