May 4, 2020

MindLeaps Guinea Provides Emergency Relief During COVID-19 Shutdowns

Since our last report in January the world has changed dramatically. COVID-19 has affected all six of the countries where MindLeaps works, and all the countries are currently experiencing some form of closure. Prior to the shutdowns, the MindLeaps Center in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, served meals daily to 160 of the world’s most vulnerable children, in addition to our signature dance classes, educational enhancements, and other supports. With mandatory shutdowns in place, the kids can no longer come to the Center to collect their meals. 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 provides 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 sanitary supplies in bulk, repackages them into family-sized portions, and delivers them directly to affected families’ homes.

The first distribution in Conakry took place on Tuesday, April 14. When MindLeaps staff visit each family, in addition to distributing supplies, they also discuss best practices in sanitation and staying healthy. As of April 30, 2020, Guinea has 1,351 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 7 deaths (source: bloomberg.com), so these practices will be essential for turning the tide and keeping our students and their families well.

Food and sanitation supplies for distribution
Food and sanitation supplies for distribution
Feb 11, 2020

MindLeaps Guinea Hosts International Training

Emmanuel
Emmanuel

An international group of dance teachers convened at MindLeaps Guinea's center in Conakry to participate in MindLeaps' Train The Trainer.  The dancers came from Burundi, USA, Canada, Italy, and the UK. The group learned MindLeaps dance curricula and pedagogical methods and practiced teaching MindLeaps classes. They were instructed by the local Guinean teachers and staff, as well as Executive Director Rebecca Davis and Lead Trainer Caitlyn Casson.

One of the dancers attending this training was the winner of the annual MindLeaps Scholarship.  Emmanuel fled from Burundi to Rwanda as a refugee and lives in Mahama Refugee Camp in Eastern Rwanda.  Mahama Refugee Camp is home to more than 58,500 Burundian refugees who have fled because of election-related violence.

When MindLeaps launched programs in six Rwanda refugee camps in partnership with UNHCR, Emmanuel was selected to join the MindLeaps training program.  He quickly rose to the top of his cohort for his dance and leadership abilities. Now, he is currently the lead trainer of the Mahama program and a positive role model for Mahama youth.  

As the MindLeaps scholarship winner, he was able to join the international group of dancers in Guinea where he improved his knowledge of MindLeaps curriculum and methodology. He has since returned to Mahama to share his newly acquired skills with his peers and community.  

MindLeaps Guinea students enjoyed having an international group of teachers lead them in classes. The dancers also visited some of the students' homes, where they saw their difficult living situations, and heard their challenging stories. Following the training, Deanna, a dancer from Canada, remarked, “I have been teaching dance for 16 years, and this training is by far the most rewarding thing I have ever done. You get to work with students dealing with some of the most difficult life situations, yet they come to class some of the happiest, hard-working people you will ever meet. It has been a humbling experience.”

Deanna at MindLeaps International Training
Deanna at MindLeaps International Training

Links:

Jan 17, 2020

Girls Succeed in School

Sumaya (left) with her friend
Sumaya (left) with her friend

The end of the calendar year marks the end of the Rwandan school year. In 2019, MindLeaps was able to sponsor 168 Rwandan children in formal education, including 83 girls!

The opportunity to go to school is life changing for these girls. It gives them the chance to succeed in life, to become independent, and to feel confident and valuable. It also creates long-term positive impacts on their families and communities. 

Let's meet two MindLeaps girls who both had an excellent year back in school:

Sumaya

Sumaya lives with her single mother in Nyamirambo, a poor community on the outskirts of Kigali. Before MindLeaps, she only ate when her mother was able to find temporary work. They faced extreme financial struggles, so much so that even hand washing their clothes was often too expensive. Then Sumaya found MindLeaps. Although her family still struggles financially, Sumaya has benefitted from the MindLeaps program immensely. It is exciting that she is able to attend school and to eat every day.

Sumaya recently completed Primary 5 (Fifth Grade) in December. She had a very successful year, earning A grades in French, Culture, and Sports. Even more amazingly, she ranked 2nd in her class of 60 students! That places her in the top 3% among her peers! Sumaya is also excelling outside of school. During a small end-of-year performance held at the MindLeaps Center, Sumaya had a featured role!

We are very proud of Sumaya's accomplishments this year. Her success in school allows her to continue to dream big. Some day, she hopes to become a Minister of Education in Rwanda to help ensure that all children are able to go to school in the future.

Aimee

Prior to joining MindLeaps, 12-year-old Aimee's home life was very difficult. Her older sister is the main provider of the household. She bought the house where Aimee and her mother live. Having only one main source of income means her family struggles to get by. The resulting emotional stress caused Aimee to struggle in school, despite the fact that she is naturally bright. When she joined MindLeaps, the Accelerated Learning Program at the Center helped her catch up with her classmates and achieve better grades. MindLeaps also gave her the opportunity to learn about sexual and reproductive health.

Aimee recently completed P5 (Fifth Grade) at a local school where she thrived. She finished the school year ranking 1st in her class of 60 students! What an awesome achievement! With continued support, Aimee can continue to work hard and succeed in school. Someday, maybe she will achieve her dream of becoming a pilot for Rwandair.

Thank you for your generosity that directly impacts the lives of these vulnerable girls. Your kind donations allow them to feel worthy of big dreams.

Aimee's Amazing Report Card
Aimee's Amazing Report Card
 
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