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 It's Festival Season in Niger! 
Fall News 2013
An Update from 
Founder Bess  
September 15 - 17 marked Niger's most vaunted festival - the Cure Salee - and RAIN was there.

My first time attending the festival in my decade of visits to Niger found me gripped with anticipation to finally see the festival of all nomadic festivals: the Cure Salee (Salt Cure). I joined the women artisans of RAIN cooperatives to gawk, socialize, and proudly display our unique hand crafted leather and embroidery items for sale.

The name Cure Salee actually refers to multiple celebrations that happen throughout Nigerien herding regions at the end of the rainy season. The Ingall region has attracted nomads for centuries - their herds enjoy the salt licks and people take part in salt cures. It is time for reuniting with other clans, to plan for the upcoming dry season, and to meet possible marriage partners. The local celebrations are fascinating, especially the Wodaabe dancing and Tuareg camel races.  

This year's festival was a mix of tradition and hype, with tradition sadly losing out. It was quite a spectacle, though, a true fantasia, put on for government representatives and international NGO's.   
Niger PM with Bess

Brigi Rafini, Niger Prime Minister and friend of RAIN, led the government delegation. Later, he would visit us at our booth and wish me "Bon Courage!"

The fairgrounds featured a viewing area with bleachers and chairs, with a performance arena in the middle. Wodaabe and Tuareg performers made appearances in the arena for various competitions -  Tuaregs with donkeys decked in full wedding regalia and camels fully outfitted in their traveling gear and good luck charms, women drumming and men dancing, and the Wodaabe men performing their gerewol dances for potential partners.

As pictured above, the Wodaabe dancers stood quite a ways away -  we could only see them on the widescreen TV. The women in the singing competitions were interrupted at 3 minute intervals for commercials. I suppose no place is immune to the 21st century - even the most remote desert on earth.

Yet, the legendary Cure Salee festival stills offers one of the best opportunities in the world to witness the magic and beauty of wholly unique West African desert traditional cultures. Do join us there soon. 
Bess Signature
At the Cure Salee, RAIN artisans were awarded First Prize for their blouse, at right, made of strips of blue and white traditional handwoven cotton sewn into stripes by Ajja, RAIN seamstress. The Teyiss Wodaabe cooperative embroidered the attached cell phone pocket. The judges declared the piece a perfect marriage of traditional craft with modern design. The prize? 4 sacks of cattle feed, 2 sacks of rice, 2 tee shirts and $100!
Decorative leather band
Looking Ahead to 2014


October begins our first complete school year at the Agadez Learning Center. We will have 25 middle school students in attendance. We are pleased to welcome Yacouba Moussa, a teacher with over 25 years experience, as Program Director. He is lively and has great rapport with students. Our high school students include a young woman studying agriculture and a young man majoring in premed.

Our mentoring programs continue to help girls succeed in school. This year we will be introducing savings and loan programs - an alternative to microfinancing - where the members, instead of borrowing from an organization or donor, create their own capital through a savings program. Mentors will gradually gain the capability to fund their mentoring activities through their S&L's and other RAIN mentor enterprises.

Plans are in the works to install our second women's cooperative garden. The 99 women of the Mari garden in Tillaberi are thriving; we will install a similar garden in Agadez.

We're focused on improving and standardizing evaluation and monitoring of all programs. For example, the government of Niger no longer gathers statistics for individual students in public schools. We're working with teachers and school directors to implement new tools for following the progress of each student in a RAIN program.

Decorative leather band

Halima Aboubacar joined us in February, 
working in the field in Agadez as Coordinator
for the Promotion of Women,
including overseeing our new learning center. 
We're excited to welcome her to our team.


RAIN recognizes our ally MAZON: A Jewish Mazon Response to Hunger for their continuing support.  We are also grateful for support from the Dover, NH chapter of Rotary International for a water and garden project underway in Tillaberi.


Dafada Ibrahim Rain for the Sahel and Sahara forges partnerships with underserved rural and nomadic desert peoples of West Africa to realize their ambitions for education and enduring livelihoods.
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