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
Our Dance Trainers
Our Dance Trainers

Dance & Data

MindLeaps currently has 107 children and youth enrolled in its Dance & Data program in Nouakchott, Mauritania’s capital city. These students take part in MindLeaps’ dance classes, which are not only fun and engaging for them, but also built on a carefully crafted curriculum designed to develop critical cognitive and social-emotional learning skills. Each student’s progress in skills acquisition is closely followed through MindLeaps’ unique software-based monitoring and evaluation system, Tracker. A key goal of the Dance & Data program is to encourage critical thinking in youth, by guiding them to develop the skills they will need to make positive choices and independent decisions later in life.

Our Trainers

Leading the dance classes are MindLeaps’ highly skilled dance trainers, including Alioune, Moussa, Hawa, Hamza, Gambi, Lalla, Amarane and Fati Sow (photo above). MindLeaps recruits trainers locally from its Train The Trainer program, which prepares participating youth through intensive training sessions where they learn the MindLeaps curriculum, methodology and tracking system. MindLeaps is committed to recruiting its teaching staff from talented local youth who are part of the community and understand the needs of its vulnerable children. MindLeaps instructors track and record changes in cognitive skills and social-emotional learning through the Tracker system. Most recently, the teaching team has also been trained in the use of a new addition to the reporting system that integrates all programs into daily WhatsApp reports from trainers.

Family Outreach

An important aspect of MindLeaps’ work goes beyond the classroom. Outside class hours, MindLeaps trainers make weekly visits to students’ homes. Home visits allow staff to follow up on the living situations of the kids, better understand any problems they may be having, and keep parents involved in the learning trajectory of their children.

The story of 14-year-old Azize is an example of just how important it is to maintain open communication with families. Azize lives with her parents and three sisters. She loves to learn and had always been a great student, but at a certain point she began missing classes. MindLeaps staff made a home visit to see what the problem might be. They learned that her parents didn’t like her attending dance class because, in their minds, dance was just a frivolous amusement. MindLeaps instructors talked with the family and explained that the objective of the dance program was to develop key skills that would advance their daughter’s education and prepare her for success in life. When they understood the larger goal and how the program worked, her parents allowed her to continue with classes. In fact, today Azize is the top student in her dance class!


Performing to Inform

MindLeaps Mauritania also runs a Performing Group, where twice a week dance students meet outside class to create performance pieces that can reach out to the larger community. The Performing Group has used expressive dance to address societal problems. In March, the group performed an original piece for International Women’s Day. MindLeaps’ talented trainer Lalla Towiloum developed the choreography for the piece about gender-based violence. The group is currently preparing a new piece addressing problems, such as the dropout issue, faced by kids in school. The Performing Group not only promotes self-confidence and creativity among its members, but is also a means of communicating vital messages to the community.

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New class of MindLeaps Mauritania students
New class of MindLeaps Mauritania students

In 2022, MindLeaps Mauritania enrolled 103 new students in our Dance & Data program. These students are receiving MindLeaps standardized dance class to develop seven cognitive and social-emotional learning skills. Monitoring and evaluation of the skill-levels is done through Tracker. The program has both new and returning dance trainers teaching all the classes. 50 students will also be in the academic catch-up program covering several subjects, including a new course on Arabic taught by MindLeaps dance trainer Hamza.

In late 2021, we prepared 59 of our "graduates" (MindLeaps students who had successfully completed our program in 2021) to start school. They are receiving school sponsorship and began school on November 1, 2021.

2021 ended on a high note with MindLeaps students and trainers in Mauritania performing in Momentum - MindLeaps annual end-of-year virtual dance performance. Trainers Aliou and Moussa performed in the sand dunes next to the city of Nouakchott, and students in the performing group danced inside the center of our local partner SOS Pairs Educateurs.

With our 2021 graduates now studying in school and new students joining us in 2022, we are happy to see all of our students leaping forward onto bright paths and new opportunities!

New class of MindLeaps Mauritania students
New class of MindLeaps Mauritania students
MindLeaps "graduates" on the way to school
MindLeaps "graduates" on the way to school
MindLeaps "graduates" now in school
MindLeaps "graduates" now in school
Trainer Aliou performing in Momentum
Trainer Aliou performing in Momentum
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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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Organization Information

MindLeaps

Location: New York - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @MindLeaps
Project Leader:
Rebecca Davis
New York, New York United States
$4,528 raised of $10,000 goal
 
126 donations
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