Nomadic Notes

Subscribe to Nomadic Notes on the new RAIN website!

Posted in Announcements by rain4sahara on January 3, 2012

At long last, after nearly a year of planning, the new website for Rain for the Sahel and Sahara is live!  The URL is the same:, but that’s where the similarity ends – the new website features all new content (to be updated regularly), photo and video galleries, a newsletter archive, and will be the new home of “Nomadic Notes.”   We would love for you to follow us there and continue enjoying behind the scenes updates from the field….. click here to be taken to the new blog!


RAIN Holiday Gift Sale Tonight!

Posted in Uncategorized by rain4sahara on December 2, 2011

Silver Tuareg necklace

Uninspired by Target and Walmart? Come to Lucia’s Kitchen in Cape Neddick tonight from 5:30 – 8:30 for the RAIN Holiday Sale!  Enjoy wine, great food, and cross off everyone on your list with beautiful and authentic gifts from West Africa. All of your purchases benefit RAIN’s programs in Niger.

See you there!

Lucia’s Kitchen on Google Maps

Unable to attend?  Then visit our Holiday Auction!

Empower nomadic women to transform communities in Niger with your year end giving!

Posted in Uncategorized by rain4sahara on November 21, 2011

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats

No one carries the torch of change like an empowered woman. Empowering women has been recognized by the United Nations as the most important global social movement of our times. To fully realize a woman’s potential, she needs the tools to create a new future, be able to put her skills to work, decide how to spend the money she earns, and to share what she has learned.

RAIN agrees. In Niger, Rain for the Sahel and Sahara (RAIN) has been at the forefront of this transformation for ten years. RAIN’s programs integrate the “3 E’s” — education, earning and empowerment —- into a life-changing package. The nomadic women in RAIN’s artisan, agriculture and herding cooperative enterprises go beyond earning incomes; they put aside 50% to fund their children’s schools as they learn new livelihoods. Women in RAIN’s programs determine how their funds are used, leading their communities in meeting the unique needs of their schools.

In the remote Niger village of Foudouk, the Wodaabe women of the “Metier Chance Vivre” (MCV) embroidery
cooperative earn funds for each item they produce for RAIN. During their first year of operation, they discovered that after paying themselves, they had $800 to invest in their school. They had never seen that much money at one time before. The entire community witnessed what they had accomplished.

This spark lit a fire in Foudouk that is transforming the community. Their success inspired others to seek out ways to help themselves. Women and men stepped forward to ask for RAIN’s help to open a general store.  RAIN replenished herds lost in drought. In return, herders are keeping a herd of animals to benefit the school. Parents are coming together to do whatever they can to get their children to school – traveling long distances and taking turns looking after them while they are away from home.

With the support of RAIN, women act as the galvanizing force, inspiring action and commitment, community by community. Entire families dig the gardens that feed school children and bring better food security to all.  Adults are enrolling in literacy classes, mentors are sharing their knowledge of heath education, and families are donating their resources to assist those greater in need.

Women are leading the way, transforming our thirty partner communities.  Help RAIN light the spark of empowerment for hundreds more rural communities throughout Niger with a contribution today.

Our children will be proud to know that their mothers worked to support their school. We’re happy to help the school, to help all the children. When our daughters return, they will teach us all.” – Djmare, Binbiya and Halima,  Metier Chance Vivre Artisan Cooperative

Donate now to light the spark of transformation for nomadic communities in Niger.

A Message from Bess in Agadez

Posted in Uncategorized by rain4sahara on November 1, 2011

To: RAIN Partners and Supporters

A Message from Executive Director Bess Palmisciano in Niger

AGADEZ – October, 2011

Right now, the world news of Niger is all about former Libyan officials hiding somewhere in the desert.  The true story, though, is in the food crisis here.  Last year we had excellent rains, and this year the season started well. However, the rains were not consistent.  Crops and grasses began to grow, then died.  Now we have large areas in crisis. In the south, crops have failed, while in much of the north there is not enough pasture for animal herds.

I have traveled a bit in the Agadez region and seen the problems for myself.  November is approaching, and still nomadic schools are not open because there is no food for the students.  We have asked the World Food Program for help, but they are not giving to schools this year – all their efforts are focused on crisis response.  We don’t argue with responding to the crisis, but the school food program is so effective — giving food to schools provides assurance of it getting to the most vulnerable — Niger’s children.

Here is some of what I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks.

  • Ingall, a town in the western part of Agadez, has a middle school meant to serve the region’s nomadic children.  Of the 265 children enrolled this year, 40 dropped out in the first week, because this state-run boarding school has no food and no dormitories.  They have gone home to their families, who are likely not able to provide for them.
  • Gougaram was nearly destroyed during the region’s rebellion.  The military remains there, evacuating the population every night at 6 at which time the soldiers move into their school, dispensary and homes.  We have partnered with Goviex to rehabilitate Gougaram with income-producing activities and agriculture.


Stories such as these are too numerous to relate.  RAIN can help with providing food to the most needy schools.  Having this food will not only provide relief to children and families, it will allow education to begin. With schools open we stand ready to install school gardens for long-term hunger solutions, ready for mentors to teach practical skills, ready to provide health education.

We hope you will support RAIN in responding to this crisis.  We know sustainable programs are the path to better futures; those efforts need to be built with people who have the strength and encouragement of daily food.

Please feel free to share this message with others who might help.

–  Bess

Back to School in Niger: Nomadic Parents Struggle

Posted in Uncategorized by rain4sahara on November 1, 2011

A dispatch from Bess in Agadez. 

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 the obstacles — 50% drop out in their first year.  We’re helping the “Foudouk 34” beat the odds.  Join us!

Bombino featured on BBC

Posted in Uncategorized by rain4sahara on September 26, 2011
Tags: , , , ,

The BBC interviews Bombino and has him perform in their studio to feature his message of peace for Agadez and Niger.



The RAIN Online Auction Closed: thank you bidders!!

Posted in Uncategorized by rain4sahara on September 19, 2011

Thanks to all bidders and item donors.  Your donations will go far in Niger.

Bombino brings his fresh take on music to Chicago – Chicago Sun-Times

Posted in Uncategorized by rain4sahara on July 12, 2011



Bombino brings his fresh take on music to Chicago – Chicago Sun-Times.


Read about Bombino playing with Dave Matthews in Chicago!



RAIN Partners with MAZON and The Global Hunger Foundation to Create Long Term Solutions to Food Insecurity

The food crisis in Sub Saharan Africa last summer may have abated in fierceness, but is not completely gone. Rains have since come, relieving the ravages of drought, but food prices remain high, crops are diminished, and essential livestock vanished.  One could safely say that in regions so remote, so arid and harsh as is rural Niger, communities are more or less always facing a crisis of food insecurity.

The nomadic cultures of rural Niger are primarily herders, not farmers.  The transition to growing sustainable crops for food and for income does not occur overnight.  With the help of our partners, RAIN facilitates this transition, allowing each community to take the lead. 

It all begins with a School Market Garden – 1,000 square meters of sustainable agriculture, planned, planted and harvested by the community themselves, learning about drip irrigation, farming techniques, and food preparation for market along the way.  Parents see their children fed at school, and become motivated to do more. Women’s cooperatives form to dry and can produce for sale to local markets.  Small herds of goats are incorporated, along with animal husbandry education, to replenish lost livestock and create food and income for both families and schools.

Within one year, the school market garden supports itself. Within 3-5 years, the garden and the community enterprises share a mutually profitable support, and can keep growing in scope. Livelihoods are created through the investment into community enterprises such as artisan and agricultural cooperatives, grain grinding, and cereal banks.  With a sustainable means of food production with surplus stored, income producing activities, and the know how to keep it going, nomadic communities can face each impending crisis from a position of strength and empowerment to avert disastrous consequences.

We would like to thank The Global Hunger Foundation and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, for sharing our vision of sustainable food security in Niger.


MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger is a leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing and alleviating hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds.  For more information, visit


The Global Hunger Foundation is dedicated to raising consciousness and funds to prevent and alleviate hunger in the developing world by empowering women towards sustainable, organic agricultural production; and at the same time advocating for the end to hunger and its causes.  Through the Nancy Daly Memorial Grant, the foundation will support establishing a program in nomadic community schools instructing children in the principles of sustainable, organic agriculture, while incorporating lessons of gender equality, empowerment, and leadership. This partnership represents the first grant for the newly formed foundation.

For more information, visit

RAIN Kicks Off our 10th Year with “Stars Over the Sahara”

Posted in Uncategorized by rain4sahara on June 21, 2011

The Black Bear Moon Rhythm Ensemble

Wow, what a way to celebrate our 10th Birthday!

 Stars Over the Sahara, our 10th Anniversary celebration hosted by Dan Philbrick at Three River Farms in Dover, NH, was a great success!   RAIN friends and supporters enjoyed African music, purchased Niger crafts, and laughed along with New Hampshire’s favorite writer and humorist, Rebecca Rule.

Humorist Rebecca Rule

Rule served as RAIN’s auctioneer, cheerfully coaxing donors to bid on tickets for Dancing with the Stars, vacation home rentals and objects of art, as well as “bidding” to support RAIN’s education and community cooperative programs in Niger, West Africa. Everyone had great fun, and together raised more than $80,000 for RAIN’s programs. 

Over 200 guests enjoyed fare provided by Jumpin’ Jays, Tulsi Restaurant, and Take Away Café. Guests also visited the RAIN Constellation of Programs, learning about artisan cooperatives, market gardens, and mentoring programs along the way. RAIN’s new Niger Country Director, Halima Hamza Malam, was on hand to talk about efforts on the ground in Niger. The evening was punctuated with joyous West African drums by the Black Bear Moon Rhythm Ensemble. 

 Stars Over the Sahara would not have been a success without our friends and supporters.  We would like to thank the following event sponsors:  Tom Haas, Joanne Lamprey, Liz and Rod Berens, John Ahlgren and Bess Palmisciano, Kirsten and Hunter Brownlie, Martha Fuller Clark and Geoffrey Clark, Lelia and John Lamson, Opus Advisors, PAX World Fund, QHT, Inc., Samonas Realty, Art of the Future, Patience and Tom Chamberlin, Robert Gray Construction, Susan and Charles Lassen, Janet Prince and Peter Bergh, Chelsey and David Remington, Harry Schult, Emilie and Dick Spaulding, Ann and Peter Tarlton, Susan Hirshberg and John Wall, Katie and Doug Wheeler, William Renaud Jr. Trucking, Inc., Appledore Real Estate, Nancy and David Borden, Joan and Frank Graf, Leslie and Peter Homans, Ree and Firoze Katrak, Zenagui Brahim, David T. Parent, Kathy and Roderick Richards, Allison Reedy and Shane Smith, the Stanhope Group, Naomi and Jeff Vanderwolk, R. Peter Taylor and Betsy and Frank Wilczek. Members of the Rotary Club of Exeter volunteered at the event, and the Club donated $1,000 to RAIN’s Niger programs.

Special thanks also to Dan Philbrick, Rebecca Rule, Phineas Press, Tom Bergeron and Lois Harman, Bruce Doty, John Seavey, Jay McSharry, Tulsi Restaurant, Smuttynose Brewery, South Street & Wine, Zakanaka Day Spa, Julie Driver, Donna and Perry Pratt, Leonard Seagren, Charter Weeks, Susan Heckaman, Event Committee Chairs Lee Lamson and Kathryn Ferguson, Ann Tarlton, Kathy Richards, Harry Schult, Brooke Howell, Donna Blumenthal, Stephanie Beck, and Ree Katrak.

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