Back to School in Niger: Nomadic Parents Struggle

 A dispatch from Bess in Agadez. 

Foudouk girls at the Agadez compound.
Foudouk girls at the Agadez compound.

Right up the street from the RAIN Agadez office is a compound with a few run down adobe buildings.  It has been rented by the parents association from Foudouk to provide a place to live while they attend grades 6 – 12 in Agadez.  The children and their parents walked 12 hours to get here.  For a month in advance of their arrival, mothers ventured into the sparse  bush every day to find fallen branches to use as cooking fuel to cook food for the children.  They paid for a truck to deliver the wood to Agadez.  They’ve rented space in a barren, one room building in which the 34 children store their UNICEF-supplied book bags and sleeping mats.  There are no rooms for sleeping.  UNICEF donated some old tents, but so many components are missing, and the children are unable to erect them.  Parents take turns traveling to Agadez in 2-week shifts to look after all the children.  When I was there on a weekend afternoon, the two mothers  ‘on duty’ were washing and plaiting hair for a line of children waiting their turns.  All were hunched along a wall as there are no trees to provide protection from the Saharan sun.

In addition to their contributions and efforts, it costs $30 US to pay school tuition and buy books.  In a country with a median income less than $300, this is a large sum.  RAIN has donated food.

Fewer than 40% of Niger’s children enter 6th grade. Those that do are often overcome by obstacles – half drop out in their first year. Help RAIN help the “Foudouk 34” beat the odds!