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
Jan 10, 2020

Festive Morning with MindLeaps

Students Performing
Students Performing

The Jim Bell Center in Nyamirambo, Kigali was bursting with excitement as MindLeaps' students and staff gathered to celebrate the end of the Rwandan school year and the end of 2019. MindLeaps' junior trainers (high school students) along with staff were responsible for the day's successful events.

The main highlight of the day was, of course, dance performances by MindLeaps' students. The six current student groups: J, K, L, M, O, and P spent seven weeks creating, rehearsing, and preparing dances that were performed for MindLeaps' staff, parents, and fellow students. The pieces ranged in style from ballet and contemporary to hip-hop and afrobeat.

Another highlight of the day included a poem written and performed by former MindLeaps students, Ally and Jean de Dieu, entitled "Street Kid Rise Up." The poem, written in mixed language, English - Kinyarwanda, spoke about the ways in which a street kid's life can shift in a positive direction if their "hands are firmly held upward and given opportunity." Ally recently finished Primary School Level 6 and will be starting Secondary School in the new year. Congratulations Ally!

Also at the event, Rwandan staff members Salama Numukobwa (Community Facilitator), Eugene Dushime (International Coordinator), and Roger Ikuzwe (Program Manager) spoke congratulating the students and teachers on a successful year. They acknowledged the amazing effort involved to make the day's programs so successful and encouraged students to continue improving the self-esteem and teamwork skills they have been developing this year. Ikuzwe continued, crediting the 2019 success of MindLeaps Rwanda to the kids', parents', and staff's, "dedication, inspiration, and professionalism in addressing the social challenge of at-risk youth."

Thank you for your generous support of these vulnerable children in 2019. You have given them the chance to develop life skills that can ultimately lead to new opportunities and an improved life.

Program Manager, Roger, Dancing with Teen Students
Program Manager, Roger, Dancing with Teen Students
Students Performing
Students Performing
Ally Presenting Poem "Street Kid Rise Up"
Ally Presenting Poem "Street Kid Rise Up"
 
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