Monday, August 26, 2013

Another School Year in Mauritania!

Program Summary (See Project Overview and Statistics below)
In 2012, NomadHope and the Rotary Club of Manhattan Beach began this pilot project, and provided support for thirteen (13) Malian “urban refugee” families and their forty (40) school-aged children. The project focuses on helping urban refugee children remain in school and out of the refugee camps, until they can return home to Mali. These families are Malian refugees living in Nouakchott, the capital city of Mauritania.
This program gave thirteen (13) families a “leg-up” for six (6) months in order to avoid the alternative, moving into the very large (75,000 people) refugee camp in Mauritania where conditions are tragic and continuation of education is unlikely. Each family has between two (2) and eleven (11) family members including one (1) to six (6) school aged children and living with them in Nouakchott, from primary school through university age.
The financial support we provided, $100 per month per family for six (6) months, was used for food, housing, school supplies, and transportation to /from school, as well as the fees for private French speaking schools for the older children that could not make the transition to Arabic used in the Mauritanian school systems (Mali schools are French speaking). The youngest primary school students were placed in public schools and began the transition from French to Arabic.  Many of these refugee families are comprised of only women and children with many run by elderly women that are unable to work. The men and older boys frequently leave to find work elsewhere, coming and going, leaving the women to keep the children in school. Some men have returned home to Mali periodically, to check on the livestock and the potential to return home.
Program Results
Ten of the families began support in July 2012, as a pilot, and completed the program in December 2012. Three additional families were added when funding became available, from October 2012 through March 2013.
After nine (9) months of operation, the project resulted in a 79% success rate keeping twenty-three (23) of the original twenty-nine (29) school-aged children from thirteen (13) families, in school and out of the refugee camps. The participating families had sixty-one (61) family members living together, including the twenty-three (23) children enrolled in school with good results. Four (4) of the original thirteen families could not find the financial means to remain in Nouakchott when the six month program ended and had to move their families into the refugee camp or to other cities. Some of the families that have successfully remained in the Nouakchott, had to send some family members to the refugee camps, keeping only one adult in the city to assure their children can stay in school.
The participant students wrote letters to us with photographs, and their parents recorded short videos, indicating how they used the funds and their excitement to be going to school. The funds were used in July and August to establish housing near the schools and in September to purchase school supplies and enroll their children, then the remaining funds were used for weekly housing, food, and transportation costs.
Satisfaction is very good for all participants. The first ten families publically thanked NomadHope and Rotary during their final meeting with Adjmor in December, noting that the assistance we provided was crucial to their existence outside of the camps and that there was no other assistance offered to them due to their status as unregistered “urban refugees”. They pleaded for further assistance both for their families and to add additional families to the program, as it has been instrumental in their children’s continued education.

Next Steps:
For the school year beginning in August 2013, we would like to assist an additional twenty-five (25) families with approximately seventy-five (75) school aged children. This assistance will give seventy-five (75) refugee children the potential to complete the 2013-14 school year and stay out of the refugee camps for another year. (See funding needs below).
Funding Needed:
The costs for this program in 2013-14 school year, is $636 per family or $15,900 for twenty-five (25) families with seventy-five (75) students, including local project management and support on-site.
Thank you

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