Educate 120 Girls in Mauritania

by MindLeaps
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Educate 120 Girls in Mauritania
Educate 120 Girls in Mauritania
Educate 120 Girls in Mauritania
Educate 120 Girls in Mauritania
Educate 120 Girls in Mauritania
Educate 120 Girls in Mauritania
Educate 120 Girls in Mauritania
Educate 120 Girls in Mauritania
Educate 120 Girls in Mauritania

As the 2020-2021 school year came to a close in July of this year, students in their last year of primary school in Mauritania took their national exams in order to be promoted to secondary school. MindLeaps is sponsoring over 300 students throughout all MindLeaps programs globally this year, 116 of which took their national exams to graduate primary school. At MindLeaps Mauritania, 25 students were sponsored in school and 6 took the exams.

This month, MindLeaps organized and held a graduation ceremony for two groups of graduates. The first group consisted of girls graduating from Vocational Training School, and the second consisted of 20 students who completed the MindLeaps Virtual Academy. The MindLeaps Virtual Academy is an online learning program started during Covid-19 that teaches our students Business Entrepreneurship, Project Management & Budgeting, Child Development, Communications, Digital Literacy, and Inclusion. To accommodate low bandwidth, minimal electricity, and poor living conditions in Mauritania, the classes are taught entirely through WhatsApp.

At the graduation ceremony in Mauritania, Rebecca Davis and Bashir Karenzi, Executive Director and Program Director of MindLeaps, and Sy Djibril, Director of SOS Pairs Educateurs, made remarks to the audience. In addition, a special tribute was held for the family of our lost trainer, Mohamed Seyid.

Stories of Change: Raki

When 12-year-old Raki began the MindLeaps program in November 2020, her teachers could see she was a bright young girl, but very shy. She did make friends with two girls in class, who, like her, spoke Fula, one of several languages spoken in Mauritania. But when asked to dance with other students, she would cry, and she was easily upset if she thought others were better at class exercises.

MindLeaps teachers consider the needs of each student, and have found ways to encourage Raki and help her work through her difficulties. For example, she now has fun playing games that are designed to bring students together. In the MindLeaps environment, children learn that they are all part of one group and that they need to try to communicate with everyone, not just stick within their own ethnic circle. Gradually, Raki has opened up and is much more at ease. Now, teachers say she’s smiling a lot – laughing and talking with other girls as they learn each other’s languages!

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Mauritanian youth in a cultural exchange with U.S.
Mauritanian youth in a cultural exchange with U.S.

MindLeaps youth trainers in Mauritania lead the dance classes, collect data on their students' skill development through Tracker, and conduct home and school visits.

Over the last several months, our trainers have been teaching classes and collecting data through Tracker, a kinesthetic-based monitoring and evaluation system. 92 children are regularly taking dance classes from these trainers.  The trainers enter the skill of every student during every class in Tracker. Over time, they are able to determine skill improvements and areas where they should focus. Below you can see data analytics produced through Tracker in April 2021 for one of these groups of students.

In addition to teaching dance class, one of the activities of MindLeaps youth dance trainers is to conduct home visits. These home visits enable us to check on how our students are progressing as well as ensure that our youth are safe and maintaining their focus on education. The home visits also reach the parents to help them understand the benefits to their kids of participating in MindLeaps' program and going to school; otherwise many parents of girls may feel that it is more important to have their kids stay at home.

 As part of a project funded by the U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott, the youth enrolled in MindLeaps' Virtual Academy in Mauritania have participated in 10 cultural exchange sessions with youth from the U.S. High schools and dance programs participated from all over the U.S., including from Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Connecticut, North Carolina, and Maryland. Students from both countries presented about their cultures, families, and shared their hobbies, visual art, poetry, and dance.

Skill change in a current class of students
Skill change in a current class of students
Youth Trainer Moussa presents in an exchange
Youth Trainer Moussa presents in an exchange
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In our last update, we reported that Mauritania has reached an exciting milestone: with low infection rates, the government has reopened schools and MindLeaps dance classes have resumed. Working with our local partner, SOS Pairs Educateurs, MindLeaps dance classes restarted in Nouakchott and are now reaching 90 vulnerable kids - 65 girls and 25 boys.  

These classes are taught by seven local youth who have been through MindLeaps training program to become dance teachers. In addition to teaching dance classes, these youth are developing their skills as community leaders through MindLeaps Virtual Academy. Both the dance classes and Virtual Academy are funded by the U.S. Embassy in Mauritania with the goals of reducing poverty, promoting an inclusive society, and increasing cultural exchange between the U.S. and Mauritania.

There are a total of 20 youth from the community ages 16 – 26 who are part of the Virtual Academy. They have all expressed an interest in advancing their lives and communities but lacked access to existing support networks, financial resources, or stable livelihoods. These youth are also representative of all ethnic groups in Mauritania. Throughout the last few months, MindLeaps has observed that an active and supportive community is being built between these 20 youth. The participants have now completed the Virtual Academy’s modules on Digital Literacy, Business Entrepreneurship, Project Management and Budgeting, and Child Development. They will soon begin the module on Communications. Finally, the youth will be joining cultural exchanges with American students; the first of these virtual exchanges will take place later this week.

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Virtual Academy launched this month in Mauritania
Virtual Academy launched this month in Mauritania

During the pandemic, MindLeaps has launched a Virtual Academy to continue the education and skill development of our trainers and students. To accommodate low bandwidth locations, minimal electricity and poor living conditions, the classes are delivered through WhatsApp groups and by low-resolution videos on smartphones. Through this format, the Academy enables international experts to deliver culturally modified curricula in five core subjects: Business Entrepreneurship, Project Management & Budgeting, Child Development, Communications, and Inclusion.

MindLeaps launched the Virtual Academy in Nouakchott in mid-September supported by the U.S. Embassy in Mauritania. The curricula, homework assignments, and video and audio lessons are available to the students in English, French, and Arabic. Twenty youth between the ages of 16 and 25 are part of the initial group – ten are current MindLeaps dance trainers and ten are youth from the community who attend programs at our local partner, SOS Pairs Educateurs.

The Academy began with a one-week course on digital literacy, followed by a five-week course on Business Entrepreneurship. The students take class from 4:30pm-6:30pm, Monday through Friday, followed by homework assignments on their own schedule. For the practical part of the course, students brainstorm business ideas and then pitch their businesses in a five-minute presentation in the final class. As always, MindLeaps leverages the skill of its trainers and staff from across the world in executing its programs. The Teaching Assistant for this course is Yves, one of MindLeaps dance trainers from Oruchinga Refugee Settlement in Uganda.

MindLeaps Virtual Academy measures the students' progress through quantitative and qualitative data assessments. On the quantitative side- information is collected on engagement, attendance, and homework completion. Qualitatively, MindLeaps examines the growth of hope, long-term vision, and community building. The impact of the Academy is to equip these 20 youth in Nouakchott with skills they can use to be economically independent, as well as become effective youth leaders in their communities. 

In an exciting milestone, Mauritania’s low infection rates are enabling it to currently reopen its schools. In accordance with governmental guidelines, MindLeaps dance classes can resume next month at our partner SOS Pairs Educateurs.

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Supplies for emergency distribution
Supplies for emergency distribution

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.

Lekreiga
Lekreiga
SOS Pairs Educateurs leading distribution
SOS Pairs Educateurs leading distribution

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MindLeaps

Location: New York - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @MindLeaps
Project Leader:
Rebecca Davis
New York, New York United States
$2,741 raised of $10,000 goal
 
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