Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Niger Vocational Training Centre


I know this blog is late going up. For months I have hinted at the opening of a large project here in Niamey but we have been swamped with details and some uncertain dates, so I have yet to explain it all to you!

And now on Monday the centre will open its doors!


part of our logo for the centre- a space where all things grow!

So give me the short answer Chantelle – what is it?

Our team in Niger is beginning a vocational training centre to train the Nomadic Tuareg and Fulani people important skills such as sewing, tailoring, welding and other trades skills, while also focusing on mentoring, life skills, literacy and health lessons to create a holistic picture of health and a knowledge base for the participants.


Why does Niger need a program like this?

Niger is the least developed country in the world, ranking last out of 182 countries worldwide in terms of overall development according to the 2009 United Nations Human Development Index. Desertification and droughts have forced the nomadic people groups we are targeting to move into major urban centres and change their way of life. They can no longer live and feed their families just having herds of animals and small crops like before. One of the largest needs of this people group is to develop new skill sets. They don’t know how to do anything except care for their animals or work the land. For the urban area where our centre is located, these jobs are not an option. In the Tuareg population alone, there are 100,000 new people who have moved into the city to find a better life, only to find they are unemployable as anything other than house guards. The training centre would provide solid skills and education to allow these people to care for their families and their communities and to enter into the local economy successfully.

The Tuareg and Fulani people groups are already marginalized in the urban setting. They have been forced to move into urban areas as their own sources of livelihood have literally dried up or died. If they do not find a way to procure new skills and knowledge, their health and families will continue to suffer.


How is the program going to start?

Our two year pilot program is focusing on girls at risk. We have 60 girls registered! These girls, between the ages of 12 and 18, will be taught classes on sewing, embroidery, literacy, French language, math, basic business concepts and bookkeeping, health, nutrition and hygiene. We are also going to specifically have times when we look at their vision of a good and Godly woman, the type of women they want to become, and what we can do to achieve these goals and grow as a person and in self-esteem. They are culturally at high risk for early marriage, early childbirth, abuse and prostitution. Providing them with skills and jobs will increase their own sense of self worth and capacity to make decisions for their own lives. It will also increase their value in the eyes of their families who will not marry them off as desperately.

At the end of the two years they will earn their own sewing machine and write a National exam which will give them a certificate of completion for their skills. They will be able to go out with the new skills to make money. They will also be able to save money for their households by sewing and repairing their clothing and sewing together the traditional fabric roofs they use for their living structures. Another immediate result is to get these girls off the street in some cases and out of risk of early marriage and early childbirth for at least two years. We are partnering with the parent of each girl that they will hold off on marriage until the program is complete so that the girl can continue to grow, learn and focus on this time of study.

During this time, Paul is also beginning to work with a small group of young Tuareg men to teach them trades skills. Already, they have made 60 desks, 30 chairs, long tables and blackboards. They are really coming together as a cohesive unit and are proud of the things they are learning. Without these guys our Centre wouldn’t be up and running!

Sidimou desks

This program is really a team venture. We have leadership support of course and working with the girls to teach and build into their lives will be Cecilia, Rebecca and Chantelle and currently Paul is working with the apprentices. We hope to see the Marineau’s involved when they return from furlough too! We are so excited to see this place up and running and all the opportunities it presents.

So…what can You do? Well, I’m glad you asked!

There is one big answer to that. PRAY! We are looking for prayer partners. We have 60 girls already registered for the program with a waiting list, and we haven’t even opened the doors yet! (60 is the max we are taking) We want to get EACH girl partnered with at least one prayer warrior. You can pray from anywhere in the world! The only thing we ask is for you to support and lift up a girl for the time she is in the program with us. We will be doing interviews and taking pictures next week and then we will put together a profile on each girl and send it to their prayer partner in mid-November. In addition to regular email updates on the project, we will also email the prayer partner if anything significant comes up in the life of the girl!

Would you like to partner with one of these girls and support her through this two year program? If so, please send us your:


Email Address

Real Address

Church affiliation (if you have one)

and whether or not you would like to be auto-subscribed to the blog for the centre.

Email all of this to:


my mural!

So there you have it- the information I have been hinting about! We are super swamped getting all the last details up and running, little things like water running, chairs built, blackboards up and curriculum all laid out for at least a month of classes. We sure could use your prayers for stamina and for no snags!

We look forward to partnering with you in this project! Feel free to email me questions or anything!


For all the Niger team,



Hezah said...

Wow,this is amazing and very exciting! I will be praying with you guys =)

Di said...

Chantelle... this is exciting,on so many levels. May God bless and give you the wisdom and strength needed as you kick this off and continue along this path. As I read there are Godbumps running up and down my arms. This is an awesome venture.