RAIN Honors the Passing of Brian Nowak


Dear RAIN friends,

This past month, RAIN, friends, family, and the broader Nigerien community lost our beloved Brian Nowak. In Niger, Brian was known was “Barke,” meaning “blessings” in Fulani. Barke is a name he received in 1998 on his first trip to Niger as an undergraduate student at Boston University.

Brian lived in Niger for over 15 years – working with RAIN for more than 8 years, including serving as RAIN’s Director of Programs, consulting with international NGOs and research institutions, and adventuring to remote communities to conduct his own research with a focus on music and spirit possession.

Brian was fluent in Zarma and had an ease of communication (that extended beyond his fluency in the language) with our colleagues and with the Nigeriens in the communities RAIN serves. In addition to designing and supervising many of RAIN’s programs, Brian enjoyed spending quality time with students at RAIN’s Agadez Learning Center (ALC) – screening documentaries and organizing music and dance parties.

Brian lived deeply and this loss will be felt far and wide. Brian leaves behind an incredible legacy. All of us at RAIN are grateful for his passion, his dedication, and his friendship.

Our condolences go out to Brian’s family, friends, colleagues, and all those who knew and loved him.

RAIN will continue to find ways to celebrate Brian’s life and honor his legacy. We will let you know as those plans evolve.

We are grateful for the time we had with Brian and the extraordinary impact he had on those who knew him – including countless Nigeriens and just about every American to have traveled through Niamey in the last decade.

With love and appreciation for time spent, stories shared, and lessons learned,

The RAIN Team

P.S. For more about Brian’s life and important work, read this beautiful piece written by Brian’s friend and colleague Cynthia Becker for BU’s African Studies Center.