Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!

by MindLeaps
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Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!
Let's Help 100 Girls Lead!

Giirls who face poverty and unstable home lives often have no alternative but to frequently miss school or drop out entirely and try to survive, with little hope for the future. As part of the MindLeaps program, these girls become involved not only in dance classes, but also receive academic support, daily meals and get on a path to school sponsorship. With the support of MindLeaps, they are able to get back on track with their education and start to dream of a future that’s possible to achieve.

Madina, Emeline, Diane, Confiance, and Ange are all MindLeaps girls who are now thriving and have their eyes set on goals for future careers.

Before MindLeaps, 12-year-old Madina had a very hard time day to day. Her father had left for the Democratic Republic of Congo when she was very young. Madina lives at home with her mother and four siblings, and her mother often didn’t have enough money for food because she spent it all on school fees. Now, with MindLeaps’ school sponsorship, her mother doesn’t need to prioritize school over food and Madina is eating well, with a lot more energy for her studies. Madina really loves learning new things, and hopes to use this hunger for knowledge to become a nurse one day. Her favorite part of the MindLeaps program is Academic Acceleration, especially English classes.

10-year-old Emeline lives with both parents and four siblings at home, but is one of just two siblings currently in school. Before MindLeaps, she would typically eat just one meal a day and her parents had a hard time paying her school fees from their work selling food and working in construction. Now, with MindLeaps, Emeline can get a second good meal every day and go to school without worrying about fees. She loves the MindLeaps program, and especially likes learning science and math in school. Her dream is to become a pilot.

12-yr-old Diane is an only child living alone with her mother since her father left the family. Her mother sells vegetables. Before joining MindLeaps, Diane was often lonely because she didn’t have a network of peers to socialize with. Now, she has a lot of friends at MindLeaps and a place to go after school. She loves being in dance class with her friends. Because her mother doesn’t earn much, Diane is happy that MindLeaps is sponsoring her school fees. She struggles at times with math and English in school, but appreciates the extra academic support she gets at MindLeaps. She hopes to become a nurse when she grows up.

Before 11-year-old Confiance joined MindLeaps, her family was having a hard time. They couldn’t afford rent, school fees, school materials, or enough food. Now, MindLeaps is able to sponsor Confiance’s school fees and provide her with a good meal every day, thereby alleviating some of the family’s difficulties. Confiance’s father died in 2016 while working in the military, leaving his wife alone to support Confiance and her two brothers by working as a street vendor. Confiance has a lot of responsibilities at home, which can be exhausting, but she says she always finds the MindLeaps dance classes energizing. She wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a soldier serving her country.

10-year-old Ange said she often went to bed on an empty stomach. Now, as part of the MindLeaps program, she gets a good meal every day and her school fees and materials are sponsored. The MindLeaps Family Strengthening Program, which works with parents of MindLeaps students, has also helped her mother find a job washing clothes in the community. This support has relieved financial pressure on the family, and Ange can now concentrate on her studies. She hopes to be a science teacher one day.

Your contributions are making continuing schooling possible for these girls and so many more like them. Education is the key to their future success, the foundation upon which their dreams can be built and realized.

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2018 ended as a success for the girls in the MindLeaps program. All those in primary and secondary school moved ahead to the next grade level, plus several girls graduated from vocational training programs and are moving on to internships. Graduation was a mark of achievement and their report cards reflect their determination to work towards their goals.

Education and training are keys to success, but at MindLeaps we know it is also important to address the particular social and personal issues faced by girls and young women. Therefore, an important part of our holistic approach is sex education. The program focuses on building confidence and communication skills, putting the girls at the center of their sexual health, and giving them tools to make informed choices.

A recent class in our sexual and reproductive health program included twenty girls ages 13 to 19, from disadvantaged families living in Kigali. Society in general does not promote open discussion about sex and reproductive issues, and girls can be quite shy about asking questions, expressing their feelings and talking openly. The class of all girls, led by women, was a safe environment, putting the girls at ease to speak more freely and share experiences. Role play was a great way to explore some of the challenges they face, and actually made thinking about difficult situations fun!

The girls played all the roles, coming up with their own exchanges. One role play depicted a young woman asking her mother for money to buy sanitary pads for the first time. The girls came up with statements like “Mom, this feels embarrassing to say, but I really need money to buy pads,” followed by the role play mother saying, “Thank you for coming to me – let’s talk about your period so you know what to expect.” In another scenario, a boy said he liked a girl, and she had to respond that she wasn’t interested in being his girlfriend, but would rather be just friends.

For such shy, tight-lipped girls, the forwardness of their role plays and the strength of their statements were amazing. The students admitted that these conversations would definitely be harder with actual mothers and actual boys, but they’ve practiced saying the words, and the statements themselves have become normalized – big steps toward removing barriers to thinking about and dealing with such personal issues.

Another highlight was seeing the increasing boldness of the girls’ questions over the weeks as the program progressed. Through the anonymous “Question Box”, where students had a chance after each class to ask anonymously about sexual health, the girls asked questions like “How can I have sex without having children?” and “What happens when you get pregnant and the boy yells at you?” These were invaluable opportunities to promote open communication, discussion of family planning, and long-term goal setting – all critical values of the program.

With your support, MindLeaps continues to address the needs of vulnerable girls in Rwanda, helping them to develop their skills, take charge of their futures, and understand how their sexual health choices can impact those futures. These girls are gaining the confidence to speak up about issues affecting their lives as women and their ability to pursue their dreams.

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Gisele
Gisele

Gisele is a bright, talented and caring young girl with a passion for dance. She dances with the MindLeaps Performance group, and earlier this year participated in the MindLeaps International Train the Trainer Program with the hopes of one day becoming a MindLeaps teacher.

Gisele came to MindLeaps in 2014 when her friends in the program encouraged her to give dance a try. Up to that point, her life had not been easy. Home life was troubled and although in school, she attended irregularly. She often ran away, spending days out on the streets. She was aimless, with no direction and nowhere to go.

Dancing made all the difference. From the moment she started with MindLeaps, Gisele was engaged, she felt a transformation begin. Dancing helped her learn discipline and her behavior at school and home began to improve. She could communicate and collaborate better with friends and family. Today, three years after finishing the graded MindLeaps program, she still dances with the Performance Group because of her love of dance. Above all, she says, dance has let her “see herself better.” The more she expresses herself through dance, the more she learns about her own emotions and aspirations. She can see clearly what is important to her.

Gisele wants to become a MindLeaps trainer to be able to give other children the kind of self-awareness and enthusiasm for life that MindLeaps gave her. She is also learning to play guitar at MindLeaps (through a collaboration with Musicians Without Borders) and aspires to one day become a musician who can play multiple instruments. MindLeaps has helped Gisele discover her own artistic expression, and it is very clear from meeting her and watching her dance that this type of creative communication has brought out the sensitive and intelligent girl that she is.

Your generosity and support make stories like Gisele’s possible. At MindLeaps, girls are finding an environment where they can thrive. Girls and boys alike are gaining the motivation, discipline and determination to achieve their goals. The 90 MindLeaps Rwanda kids currently enrolled in primary and secondary school are moving ahead with their formal education, having completed term two in August and started term three in September. Their enthusiasm for learning can be seen in their report cards, with many among the top students in their class.

Pascaline's Report Card
Pascaline's Report Card
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Misty Copeland’s visit to the Girls Program
After helping to launch the Girls Program three years ago, Misty Copeland, Principal Dancer of American Ballet Theatre, returned to Kigali to witness and celebrate the growth of MindLeaps Rwanda.

She observed the dance, IT, and academic acceleration courses, as well as one of the new programs launched in 2018: Sexual and Reproductive Health.  This program is taught by health educator Leslie Massicotte. Misty observed the program and said it gives the girls an uncommon chance to “really sit down and speak openly and candidly, and not feel ashamed about being a young woman.” She said, that in learning about their bodies, the girls are more confident and comfortable in their own skin.

Watch Misty’s five-day experience in Rwanda, specifically the Girls Program vlog from her second day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H8o_yVAlL8, to gain insight into the effects of the Girls Program:

Days for Girls
As a further extension of the Girls Program, MindLeaps has partnered with Days for Girls (DfG) in order to distribute 40 DfG kits to the girls in Rwanda. DfG, through their partnership with MindLeaps, provides access to menstrual care kits, as well as education for these at-risk youth.

The DfG kits each come with a "POD." Each POD acts like a sanitary napkin kit.  A POD has one waterproof shield and two absorbent liners and lasts several years. This solution is so important for girls.  As DfG states, “Without a solution to manage her monthly cycle, 1 in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa will miss school this year.”

Education and understanding of their monthly cycles is essential, and we are grateful for this partnership with Days for Girls to keep our girls on a path towards success.

New Community Facilitator: Salaama Numukobwa
The newest staff member joined the MindLeaps team in August 2018: Salaama Numukobwa. After experiencing what MindLeaps did for her two children, Claudine and Francine, Salamaa became the first parent of a MindLeaps child to officially join the core staff.

Salaama’s passion for community work began well before her involvement in MindLeaps. Starting in 2011, Salaama volunteered with We Act for Hope and African Evangelical Enterprise. In 2017, Salaama was elected President of MindLeaps Parents’ Committee, and from there, her involvement skyrocketed. With the generous support of the Arthur & Patricia Hill Foundation, MindLeaps launched a new approach to the Family Strengthening Program in July 2018. Salaama aided in selecting 12 leaders that provide training to 100 parents in Financial Literacy, Basics of Business, Gender-Based Violence, and Good Practices of Parenting. Now, as an official Community Facilitator for MindLeaps, Salaama has inspired fellow parents by demonstrating how her experiences led to permanent employment. We are grateful to Salaama's work in supporting the MindLeaps parents and the larger community.

Days for Girls Kit Distribution
Days for Girls Kit Distribution
MindLeaps Community Facilitator Salaama Numukobwa
MindLeaps Community Facilitator Salaama Numukobwa
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Dancers from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, DRC, & Guinea
Dancers from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, DRC, & Guinea

Our Girls LEAD 2018 programming continues in Rwanda providing dance, IT, business training, and academic acceleration courses for the students who joined in January. For our girls who have graduated from MindLeaps, they are now in school, moving forward in their acacdemic education and vocational training.  Two of these girls from our Girls LEAD program have a particularly exciting summer...

Ten of the best trainers from MindLeaps programs in Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Guinea convened in Kigali, Rwanda, on June 10th. For the next three months, they will study, train and live together in an immersive cultural experience mixing different nationalities, languages, religions, and talents. These trainers will learn MindLeaps curricula and pedagogy to become better equipped to bring the MindLeaps program to their own communities when they return to their home countries.   The dancers come from Kenya, Uganda, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda.  Representing from the Girls LEAD program are Rwandans Sifa and Gisele. 

Sifa grew up in a very poor family in Kigali. She had to drop out of school because her father could not pay for her school fees.  When she joined MindLeaps, her confidence level started to grow. Soon, Sifa began excelling in her dance and English classes. She also was always kind and welcoming to new students. She worked hard to reintegrate into school and has now joined the prestigious White Dove Girls' School in 7th Grade. Because of her skills in dance, talent in working with others, and hard work, Sifa was selected to join our cohort of international trainers that will learn MindLeaps' curriculum and perform this summer at an international arts festival.

Presently in NYC, five dancers are being trained to become MindLeaps dance teachers. MindLeaps programs are growing across the world.  We are developing new teachers to be able to staff our programs. These five dancers - from Rwanda, the US and Canada - have spent an intensive two weeks learning the MindLeaps curriculum and pedagogy. In addition, they met their future teammates – the ten African trainers, including Sifa and Gisele – through a Skype session on Wednesday, June 13th. (Photo within.) One of these trainees, Darlene, is particularly excited to return home and work with MindLeaps Rwanda. She is a great teacher and will be a wonderful role model to all of the students in our Girls LEAD program.

We are so proud of our students in the Girls LEAD program. They are becoming leaders at MindLeaps and in their communities!

MindLeaps Students Turned Teachers, Sifa & Gisele
MindLeaps Students Turned Teachers, Sifa & Gisele
Skype with MindLeaps Trainers in Africa and USA
Skype with MindLeaps Trainers in Africa and USA
Newest MindLeaps Trainer, Darlene
Newest MindLeaps Trainer, Darlene
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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
$24,360 raised of $37,500 goal
 
229 donations
$13,140 to go
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