Posted by Susan Weaver on Feb 17, 2017
 
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Let me introduce you to Leslie Clark, who is among the most adventurous people I have had the pleasure to know.  An honorary member of the Rotary Club of Ojai, Leslie is the force behind The Nomad Foundation.  

The story of the Nomad Foundation begins with Leslie’s reading the book 'The Nomads of Niger' by Carol van Beckwith.  Fascinated, Leslie packed her bags and set off to see Niger and to get to know the nomads for herself undeterred by the fact that the country was in a state of rebellion.  

During that first trip she met a Wodaabi family who, despite their humble circumstances, welcomed her with legendary nomadic hospitality. Their warmth and kindness so touched Leslie that when she returned a year later, she presented them with a cow to show her appreciation. On her third trip to Niger, Leslie learned from her grateful Wodaabi friends that without her gift they would have been forced to give up their nomadic life and move to the city to scratch out a living.  Struck by the enormous impact on their lives of what was for her a relatively small contribution, Leslie had what we Rotarians might call a “Rotary Moment” and she returned home to start the Nomad Foundation. She enlisted friends and organized fundraisers.  An artist, Leslie captured the beauty, grace and romance of the nomads, and used a portion of her sales to finance the work of the foundation.  

Then, in 2005, Niger was struck with famine.  For Leslie, friendships made this a personal event and she began contacting everyone she knew to raise money for relief programs.  Her efforts gained real traction when 'The Ventura County Star' published an article about her work in Niger on the same day as news of the famine was headlined in the New York Times and LA Times. Donations to the Nomad Foundation came flooding in - $50,000 in two weeks.   

Since those early days, The Nomad Foundation has partnered with Rotary on several programs through the years.  Our E-Club has made small financial contributions to two of these efforts - the midwife training project and the microcredit program for at-risk youth.  This new District Grant proposal to build a middle school for nomad youths is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Westlake Village Sunrise and seeks both cash contributions and district designated funds.
 
 
 
 
 
Leslie Clark along with Sidi Mamane, charter President of the Rotary Club of Agadez and mayor of Ingall, and Niger's cabinet minister of Agriculture and livestock, Boucha Mohamed, recently visited several California Rotary Clubs and the STEPS conference to seek support for a continuing education project described in the following PowerPoint presentation.
 
(If you cannot see the presentation below on your device, click here).
 
 
 
This District Grant project is being reviewed and considered by our International Service committee for possible participation with the Rotary Club of Westlake Village Sunrise to provide financial support from our District Designated Funds (DDF) allocation for the 2017-18 RY.
 
 
 
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