Rain Dance

rain danceOn a cold winter’s night, a group of global-minded Brooklynites gathered in the Cobble Hill home of Fred Kent for an African feast supporting Saharan school gardens.

Aley Kent served a buffet of North African-inspired dishes like lamb, couscous and flatbreads, accompanied by a tasting flight of six African wines.

The evening of African hospitality raised over $1,000 to benefit Rain for Sahara, a small not-for-profit that fosters sustainable rural livelihoods of nomadic people in the African nation of Niger. Amidst the sumptuous dates, smoky Nigerien spices, and free-flowing pinotage, Rain’s founder and director Bess Palmisciano presented her experiences of Niger, first as a tourist, now as an ally and advocate for the Tuareg, the native nomadic community whose lives are built around the livestock they herd. The poorest country on the planet, landlocked Niger lies on the southern fringe of the vast Sahara desert in a transitional region called the Sahel. Rainfall is scarce and small changes in the fragile local environment mean big changes for traditional herding communities. Rain promotes health, education, and social equity through multiple collaborative programs, including profitable gardens at the schools attended by the Tuareg children.

A cold night in the city couldn’t feel farther from the Sahara. But through Rain (rain4sahara.org), communities in Niger can leverage the support of friends in faraway places, like Brooklyn.