Irma Turtle

In Loving Memory of Agadez Learning Center benefactor, Irma Turtle

For over 25 years Irma Turtle served people less fortunate than she. Irma was a loving person and believed in the heart, the spirit and the mind. Her favorite quote was from Mahatma Gandhi:  “Be the change you want to see.” Irma certainly did that through her organization, TurtleWill, in Niger, Mali and Ethiopia. Her artisan soul gave her creativity to come up with ideas to help others.

Irma fell ill in 2013 and was facing the possibility of the discontinuation of the programs in West Africa that meant so much to her. She was particularly concerned about her dormitory programs in Agadez and Tchirozirene, Niger. There, students who graduated with good grades from remote primary schools where no secondary schools were available were offered secure lodging and scholarships secondary schools.

When Rain for the Sahel and Sahara (RAIN) agreed to take on these programs, including the children from both sites in the Agadez center, Irma was thrilled and TurtleWill gifted the Agadez dormitory to RAIN. TurtleWill closed in 2013 and Irma wrote in a final newsletter:

“In Niger the torch has just completed passing to Bess Palmisciano of Rain for the Sahel and the Sahara. Bess has been working in Niger since 2000 with nomadic and rural peoples to improve their lives through education, water security, agriculture and income-producing activities. She’s just like me in her non-stop dedication, and is a real “coup” for TurtleWill.”

All of us at RAIN, and especially the students and staff at the program that we now call the Agadez Learning Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders (ALC) are deeply grateful to Irma for her generosity. We continually strive to live up to her expectations and have expanded the ALC to include a girls’ mentor program, traditional craft skills, peer-to-peer tutoring and leadership training in many forms. Our students, though coming from inferior rural schools, are exceeding their peers in Agadez. They go on, with support from RAIN, to enter teaching, nursing and agriculture programs. We are committed to seeing those with the ability and determination to continue through university. Any donations in memory of Irma Turtle will be dedicated to the Agadez Learning Center.

Irma’s recently published memoir, Nomads I Have Known and Loved: A Thirty-Year Journey into the Cultures, Customs, Homes and Hearts of Africa’s Tribal Peoples is a wonderful review of her work and friendships. 

Click Here to Donate in Irma’s Memory –