Winter 2011 ADRA Works
“Three years ago, prior to the ADRA Goats for Girls’ Education projects in Maradi, the school did not have a single classroom full of students,” says Jason Brooks, ADRA Niger country director. “Today, we have two full classrooms for each grade in this elementary school, and the difference is goats!
“Individuals who gave to the project in the 2009 ADRA’s Really Useful Gift Catalog made this possible,” Jason continues. “Before, parents were not interested in education. Some boys went to school; however, very few girls were in school, and almost none beyond the third grade. Now the parents actually bring their children to school each day, and they want to know what their children are learning. This is unheard of here in eastern Niger.
“The entire community has been impacted by this project,” says Jason. “I learned that they have saved the necessary 150,000 Central African francs, or $300, that the government requires a community to contribute toward the cost of drilling a well. They have never talked to me about drilling a well. The mothers’ association took it upon themselves to convince each family to contribute toward the cost of the well. Today, they said, ‘Here is the money; how soon can you drill the well?’ This is a first for ADRA! Thankfully, the Southern New England Conference Pathfinders will help cover the cost of drilling the well here.”
To be part of the Goats for Girls’ Education project, girls must stay in school with passing grades through the seventh grade. When they begin the eighth grade, ADRA presents each girl with a Kano brown goat. The girl’s mother signs a contract with ADRA agreeing to keep her daughter in school and to help with goat rearing. Both mother and daughter receive training from ADRA in caring for the goat.
“Most girls in Niger work with their mothers around the home or are forced to sell peanuts along the road each day,” says Bebe. Bebe is the head of the newly formed mothers’ association that meets regularly at the school. “This ADRA program has made a huge impact, and it is very rare now to see a small girl selling things by the road in this area.
“When ADRA gives a girl a goat, the milk is of very high value to the family, and once the goat bank is repaid, the original goat is an asset against starvation,” says Bebe. “When a girl establishes a goat herd, it is a source of pride and revenue for the family. This enables a girl to marry much later in life.
“These past few years, I have seen a marked difference in the girls who are in school compared to those who are not. The girls who stay in school are confident; and even their hygiene is greatly improved. I am excited by these changes.
“And for families to believe that their girl child will grow to have a say in the future development of our country is a remarkable thing!” Bebe exclaims. “Even people who are not educated know that an educated child makes a better contribution to society. However, when you think that our daughters will be able to work as professionals, to work in an office or as a translator or even hold a government job...these thoughts fill us with hope and pride. Because of ADRA, our community has become an example for all of Niger!”