Mentors: The Heart of RAIN

More than a counselor to at-risk girls


An advocate in the classroom and at home

"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

READ: Full Interview with Mrs. Jadatta


 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.


Over time, mentors are viewed as "wise women"  in their communities, carrying on the traditional role of a sage. Tireless advocates, mentors will discuss the importance of education at weddings, naming ceremonies and other gatherings. At the start of each school year, they will travel to surrounding hamlets to recruit new students to come to class. As classrooms swell with more students, mentors step forward to train other women to  become mentors. 
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Tuareg men from the Aïr region spend 5-7 months each year on camel caravans, traveling to Bilma for dates and salt, and then to Kano to trade them for millet and other foodstuffs, household tools, and luxury items such as spices, perfume, and cloth.
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