During the pandemic, MindLeaps' mission to create educational paths for vulnerable youth remains unchanged. MindLeaps has launched a Virtual Academy to continue the education and skill development of our trainers and students during this time. To accommodate low bandwidth locations, minimal electricity and poor living conditions, the classes are delivered through WhatsApp classes 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.
As of this summer, trainers from all eight of our programs in Rwanda (Kigali, Masoro, and in six refugee camps) are studying in MindLeaps Virtual Academy, as well as 40 kids at our permanent center.
In August, MindLeaps Rwanda began the module on Child Development taught by creative arts therapist and researcher Dr. Janelle Junkin. The course covered the different stages of child development, studied trauma and its impacts, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy interventions. The participants completed the course by presenting their own project to help children in their community. This course was particularly relevant to our trainers from the refugee camps. As teachers to refugee children in their camps, every child they work with has experienced trauma. And as refugees themselves, the understanding of trauma has helped generate self-awareness needed to work constructively with others. One of the trainers, Joseph, from Gihembe Refugee Camp said “There are times that a child acts out, and being patient is difficult and we overreact to the child. But now, we are aware of our thoughts and emotions that lead to our reactions and are able to be better teachers.” And Ninette from Mahama Refugee Camp said “I now know how a child develops in different stages and how I can help a child who has experienced trauma. Now, I have the confidence that I can help my community and my students.”