In Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, MindLeaps works with vulnerable girls from El Mina, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. Before the pandemic, MindLeaps provided dance classes, nutrition, and school sponsorship in collaboration with our local partner SOS Pairs Educateurs. When the pandemic broke out, the dance classes and services shutdown, but the need to continue serving these girls was more essential than ever.
The government took drastic actions to limit the spread of COVID-19 including curfews, closing schools, borders, and airports, closing all shops except for food, and ending non-essential work. Many work activities - which were the source of survival for poor families - stopped suddenly, which has greatly worsened the extreme poverty these families are facing.
In response, our partner SOS Pairs Educateurs with support from Exxon Mobil is distributing emergency relief supplies, focusing on the Lekreiga section of El Mina. In Lekreiga, the average household size is between 7 and 8 people, and 30% of children are under the age of 10. SOS Pairs Educateurs is working with the local government of Mauritania to coordinate the distribution of over 400 kits to our students' families and to all families in the Lekreiga district.
The relief supplies distributed to each family included: • 25 kg of rice • 10 kg of sugar • 5 liters of oil • 2 liters of bleach • 5 bars of soap
You can see some of SOS Pairs Educateurs' work here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0-3PQDcscc&feature=youtu.be
SOS Pairs Educateurs is also providing information resources for the community on their website: http://sospairs.org/covid-19
Mauritania is formulating reopening plans and looking towards opening schools later this summer, at which point MindLeaps' dance classes can resume. Until that time, MindLeaps and SOS Pairs Educateurs are continuing to support these vulnerable girls in their health and nutrition needs. In addition, MindLeaps is aiming to continue the training of its Mauritanian dance trainers through the new Virtual Academy, to build their skills as project managers and leaders.
We are so grateful for your support of these girls in Mauritania especially during these challenging times. They are looking forward to continuing their dance classes and education as soon as it is safe to do so.
Emergency Food Relief for MindLeaps Students and Families
By Eleanor Milburn - Assistant Director
One of the MindLeaps' families receiving meals
Before joining MindLeaps, vulnerable girls in Rwanda who suffer from poverty are forced to drop out of school and survive on the streets. The girls who come to MindLeaps Rwanda's Jim Bell Centre in Kigali rely on us to provide a safe space to learn, dance, and eat daily meals.
Shutdowns across the country mean that the girls can no longer come for the food and safety they relied on. To compound this desperate situation, COVID-19 is deepening food insecurity across the continent due to economic downturns, movement restrictions, and illness. Our obligation to help the vulnerable girls in our care is more pressing than ever.
To provide emergency relief to our kids and their families, MindLeaps is distributing monthly food and sanitation packages. With special government permission, and above and beyond their usual duties as dance teachers, our staff purchases food and sanitation supplies in bulk, repackages them into family-sized portions, and delivers them directly to affected families’ homes. When visiting the families, in addition to distributing supplies, our staff discuss best practices in sanitation and staying healthy, practices that will be essential for turning the tide of new infections and keeping our students and their families well.
With your support, MindLeaps is helping deliver these life-saving meals and supplies to 240 families throughout Rwanda. You can see the distribution near a MindLeaps Center in this video.
MindLeaps Rwanda Provides Emergency Relief During COVID-19 Shutdowns
By Eleanor Milburn - Assistant Director
The Jim Bell Centre at MindLeaps Rwanda has served as a haven for the most vulnerable youth in Kigali for the last six years. Providing dance classes, academic and IT courses, daily meals and more, kids found a safe and engaging environment where they could dance and learn. Due to COVID-19, mandatory shutdowns have closed the Center, and our kids can no longer come for the programs or for the daily meals they relied on. Our obligation to provide for the vulnerable children in our care is more pressing than ever.
To provide emergency relief to our kids and their families, MindLeaps is now distributing food and sanitation packages, which reach over 425 children through the MindLeaps Centers in Guinea and Rwanda. MindLeaps is also providing emergency support for an additional 600 children in Uganda. With special government permission, and above and beyond their usual duties, our staff purchases food and sanitation supplies in bulk, repackages them into family-sized portions, and delivers them directly to affected families’ homes. When visiting the families, in addition to distributing supplies, our staff discuss best practices in sanitation and staying healthy, practices that will be essential for turning the tide of new infections and keeping our students and their families well. MindLeaps is helping deliver these life-saving meals and supplies to 240 families throughout Rwanda.
Usually a dance studio, classroom, and office, right now the Jim Bell Centre is the staging ground for our staff to collect and distribute these needed supplies (photo below). When it is time, we look forward to welcoming our students back to the Center so they can find their safe haven once again.