Airmen help renovate women’s vocational school in Niger

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III
  • 435th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Airmen deployed to Nigerien Air Base 101 and U.S. Embassy personnel finished remodeling a local women’s vocational school in Niamey, Niger, Oct. 14, 2019.

Organized by the Women’s Association, Niamey Chapter, volunteers renovated the headquarters of the Sara-Niger Rehabilitation Center Movement for Women and Girls, a school that teaches local women techniques for making clothing, providing them with a profession and a source of income.

“Knowing that we are able to provide a service that improves the livelihood of women in the community is amazing,” said Capt. April Blevons, 768th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron Intelligence officer in-charge.

During the three-week long project, more than 20 volunteers cleaned, painted and reorganized the facility adding shelving units and other small construction improvements to enhance the learning environment for the center’s faculty and students.  

“We very much appreciate the assistance and support of both the American Embassy team and the Airmen deployed here,” said Ainsley Gottrich, U.S. Embassy in Niamey Community Liaison Officer. “It’s great to be intimately involved in a project where, in a few weeks, we can transform a dull, dirty, lifeless classroom into a vibrant, colorful, inspiring space for these students to create.”

At the Sara Center, around 50 students a year learn vocational skills like sewing, embroidery, crocheting, knitting and dying clothing ensuring they can provide for themselves and/or their families.

“As a deployed Airmen here in Africa, being able to assist the local Nigerien women has been one of the most rewarding parts of my time on the continent,” said Blevons. “One of the most significant impacts of our involvement in the Woman’s Association is that it fosters a sense of community between the Nigeriens and Americans here in Niamey.”

According to Gottrich, the Women’s Association, Niamey Chapter, continues to partner with local non-governmental organizations with the common goal of making positive impacts in the lives of women and children in Niamey.

“We are sisters helping sisters,” she said.