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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Rain for the Sahel and Sahara (RAIN)

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Economic Development, International, International Agricultural Development, International Development, International Economic Development, Microfinance, Rural Economic Development

Mission: Rain for the Sahel and Sahara (RAIN) forges partnerships with underserved rural and nomadic desert peoples of West Africa to realize their ambitions for education and enduring livelihoods.

Results: Developing enduring grassroots programs for over a decade to bring access to education and opportunity to some of the poorest communities in the world. Local women mentor at-risk girls to keep them succeeding in school. Self supporting agriculture projects increase food security and income. Training and investing in community enterprise and S&L groups for women increases economic security on both family and community levels. RAIN is bringing measurable changes in quality of life while preserving traditional lifestyles.

Target demographics: Rural and nomadic communities achieve access to education and enduring livelihoods.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 17 remote communities across the desert regions of Niger

Geographic areas served: Niger, West Africa

Programs: School Market and Women's Co-operative Agriculture, Mentoring for at-risk girls, Small Enterprise such as artisan and herding co-operatives, wells, Savings and Loans Groups, agricultural and business education, Learning Center for nomadic students to go beyond primary school.

Community Stories

39 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Rain for the Sahel and Sahara (RAIN) is one of those rare organizations that is not about charity but rather about sustainability.Every dollar invested is intended to create the infrastructure or resources to enable local communities to carry on their educational mandate without further intervention from outside. Of course it takes time to build the communal institutions to accomplish this, so RAIN is the
initial resource to make this possible. Education is the key to combating the negative forces of fundamentalism that have played out in the region over the last 12 months. Please support these efforts that will sustain a rich cultural Tuareg heritage. I have been to Niger with Bess and RAIN and experienced the warmth and generosity of a culture in transition. Send me an email cw@charterweeks.com and I will send you my journal of that amazing journey to the very edge of nowhere.
Charter Weeks

Stephanie172

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Education and empowerment for women and girls has proven to be a powerful force for peace and prosperity in developing nations. Programs like RAIN provide an enormous return on investment.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

The commitment and passion to the work RAIN does in Niger is a model for all small nonprofits. The Board and the staff create an environment that allows someone with very little knowledge of western Africa to understand the urgency of the need for education, water and support for the people in the communities served by RAIN. Though these communities are a far distance from the United States, RAIN works diligently to make us realize that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect when a foreign nonprofit is dedicated to providing assistance.

Donor

Rating: 5

I know that every dollar donated to RAIN is money used in the most effective manner. It is vital that the cultures of the world's fragile indigenous peoples, such as the life-revering Tuareg, be sustained and preserved. YOU can help in achieving this by donating to RAIN, an amazing non-profit which is dedicated to education and economic development in Niger. The Tuareg culture (renowned for its matriarchal families, inspiring music and beautiful jewelry) has survived the harsh realities of the desert since its creation; however, it is at risk in our violent world. The road to peace is paved with the prosperity of people such as those that RAIN is "boosting" with education and, also, with the essentials for good health that enable learning and putting to work what has been mastered. God bless the people of Niger, and God bless RAIN for all it accomplishes in Niger!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

RAIN for the Sahel and Sahara is dramatic evidence of the power of one. When Bess Palmisciano first visited the Sahara desert of Niger, she didn't just exclaim over the scenery, she wanted to learn how a nomadic peoples lived in such a place. When she saw some of the essential things they needed, she set about her work of recruiting help to dig wells, build schools, enable nomadic children to attend the schools by planting gardens to feed them at school. RAIN now helps to educate women to be economically independent and girls to be educated while not neglecting important support for men and boys in Niger. The work of RAIN demonstrates the transformational importance of two statements attributed to two ground-breaking women: Marilla Ricker, "It had to be done so I did it', and Margaret Mead, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." I am proud to support such valuable work!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've seen how powerful the mentoring bond can be in practice in schools in this country. A way for both mentor and mentee to see beyond their daily horizon and take new, positive and sometimes scary risks. It can be life-saving. I am so happy to have discovered RAIN's education programs in Niger that give young nomadic girls opportunities beyond traditional roles and their community mentors new livelihoods and training in health, business and social issues. We know how important every year of school is for these very rural and nomadic youths living in a changing and challenging world. RAIN's impact on their Nigerien partners and friends is real, personal and sustainable - and deserves our help.

Larry45

Donor

Rating: 5

A recent 50th reunion of former Peace Corps volunteers who served in the Niger Republic voted to recognize and fund RAIN and one other non profit group as a legacy non profit serving the critical needs of Niger citizens. A sub-committee of former volunteers experienced in international aid and development considered and developed a short list of 6 potential organizations, some very large and established and operating in Niger. RAIN was selected for recognition and funding due to its leadership, use of primarily well experienced Nigeriens to manage the organization, its support of under-served population, provision of services in education, economic development, food security in a sustainable manner, and support of girls education.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

RAIN for the Sahel and Sahara is a fantastic non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of many groups in Niger. RAIN has implemented programs to fight for the right of equal education and has formed cooperatives with both women and men to help support their lifestyles. RAIN also educates Americans about the difficulties these people face each and every day. A wonderful and thoughtful organization!

Stephanie171

Donor

Rating: 5

There are many reasons that I support RAIN both as a volunteer and as a donor. One of the biggest reasons is that they are an organization who sets the stage for people to help themselves. They are not an organization that sweeps in and imposes western solutions. RAIN listens first and then works to help. Their staff in Niger is Nigerien. I think that speaks volumes. When you speak with their ED, Bess Palmisciano, you see that her deep respect for the Tuareg people informs RAIN in everything that they do.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Bess and the staff at RAIN are intelligent and compassionate leaders working to create positive change for the nomadic people of Niger, some of the poorest people on Earth. RAIN's efforts are multi-faceted....fundraising, helping to make the rough desert environment more functional for survival, education and training, and selling in the U.S. the goods made by the women of the nomadic cooperatives so that the money can be put back into schools for children back in Niger. A lot of work done efficiently and with incredibly positive results!!

Margo007

Donor

Rating: 5

Our small midwest Episcopal congregation makes a yearly donation to an international non-profit that works effectively with local people to make a difference and empower them to improve their lives. Bess and her work with RAIN in Niger, through the in-country staff and creative programs, was a perfect match for us. We were able to support a Mentoring program for women and girls where women taught girls traditional artisan crafts, while sharing about health and nutrition. Our kids wrote and the girls wrote back, giving our children a chance to learn first-hand about Niger, while having fun exchanging letters across the world. RAIN does transformative work that we are proud to share!

Julie146

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Bess and the team at RAIN For the Sahel and Sahara are dedicated, smart and effective. They accomplish a great deal with the funds they receive and truly make a difference to the nomadic people of Niger. I've volunteered with the organization for the past 3 years, helping to communicate their mission and promote fundraising events. I am confident that this is time well-spent and that RAIN will continue to grow and affect positive change for the women, children and communities they serve.

Donor

Rating: 5

Congratulations on another year, and thank you for your work in the world.

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 5

I am proud to be a RAIN donor. Their work in support of children and women (and therefore all of the region's people) in Niger is inspiring world work. The organization and its leadership is efficient, well-run, and hopeful.

Barbara

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for Rain for about five years and I continue to do so because I know that this organization helps the people of Niger in the way that they want help - that is in educating their children, in empowering their women and in teaching methods of agriculture to a nomadic people.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer for Rain for the Sahel and the Sahara and believe in its goals and integrity.

Donor

Rating: 5

My wife, Jennifer, and I have had the pleasure of knowing Bess and following the evolution of RAIN since her first visit to Niger about ten years ago. Bess is truly devoted to finding effective, grassroots solutions to challenges affecting vulnerable populations in Niger. From the very beginning, she and her team have always been conscious of being good stewards of scarce donor funds, doing her best to minimize unnecessary overhead and make every dollar possible reach those who need it most. She and her team are also quite conscientious in trying to ensure that approaches are developed in a participatory fashion so that they empower rural populations while ensuring that they respond to real needs.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

All of our family members have been Rain supports almost since its founding! We've watched RAIN grow and increase the help particularly to women and children in Niger, and have met some of RAIN's Nigerian volunteers. So amazing what a few people can do to bring about real change!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

One day a week, I volunteer in the RAIN office in Portsmouth doing a variety of things such as computer work, helping with mailings, filing, and sorting and organizing goods for our sales of African made items. It is such a pleasure to be involved with an organization that is making a difference in the lives of so many people, especially in the lives of women and girls in the Mentoring program. Our office walls are full of pictures of smiling men, women and children of Niger that help me feel connected to them in this splendid effort of education.

Diane G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This terrific organization touches the lives of individuals in Niger, Africa by providing positive and sustaining support.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been impressed by Rain from the very first news article I read about this great organization. Rain focuses on the very root of poverty. Rain works with some of the most overlooked people in the world. I am especially happy with Rain's effort to not only help with food but also to help a people sustain their culture, history and language.The idea to enable sustainable gardening at school locations is nothing short of brilliant! Their empowerment of women is a key force enabling their partners to survive in a hostile environment and a world of shrinking resources. Our family chose to make Rain one of charitable partners in our family's effort to eliminate poverty from the world's people! Let there be Rain wherever it is needed!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

RAIN's work in Niger is a great example of how local community initiative with an organization's clear vision and commitment, can plant seeds that can bring new forms of life to a community in need. By working in a variety of fields, such as gardening, education, artisan co-ops, animal husbandry, for example, RAIN works with many different aspects of life in a community. Working with people with a plan for the future is an inspiration in a time when too much of the development work in Niger addresses rapid crisis intervention without a deeper understanding of of the long-term needs of rural communities in Niger. RAIN's understanding of Nigerien communities also included the idea that women are important and powerful sources of social change in their communities. Women's participation in RAIN activities provides a firm base of motivated community members that demonstrate their initiative by participating in activities which have a direct impact on them individually as well as on the community as a whole.