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Help 250 Youth Recover From Ebola in Guinea

by MindLeaps
Help 250 Youth Recover From Ebola in Guinea
Help 250 Youth Recover From Ebola in Guinea
Help 250 Youth Recover From Ebola in Guinea
Help 250 Youth Recover From Ebola in Guinea
Help 250 Youth Recover From Ebola in Guinea
Help 250 Youth Recover From Ebola in Guinea
Help 250 Youth Recover From Ebola in Guinea
Help 250 Youth Recover From Ebola in Guinea
Help 250 Youth Recover From Ebola in Guinea
Help 250 Youth Recover From Ebola in Guinea
Help 250 Youth Recover From Ebola in Guinea
Help 250 Youth Recover From Ebola in Guinea

Since our last report in January the world has changed dramatically. COVID-19 has affected all six of the countries where MindLeaps works, and all the countries are currently experiencing some form of closure. Prior to the shutdowns, the MindLeaps Center in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, served meals daily to 160 of the world’s most vulnerable children, in addition to our signature dance classes, educational enhancements, and other supports. With mandatory shutdowns in place, the kids can no longer come to the Center to collect their meals. Our obligation to provide for the vulnerable children in our care is more pressing than ever.

To provide emergency relief to our kids and their families, MindLeaps is now distributing food and sanitation packages, which reach over 425 children through the MindLeaps Centers in Guinea and Rwanda. MindLeaps provides emergency support for an additional 600 children in Uganda. With special government permission, and above and beyond their usual duties, our staff purchases food and sanitary supplies in bulk, repackages them into family-sized portions, and delivers them directly to affected families’ homes.

The first distribution in Conakry took place on Tuesday, April 14. When MindLeaps staff visit each family, in addition to distributing supplies, they also discuss best practices in sanitation and staying healthy. As of April 30, 2020, Guinea has 1,351 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 7 deaths (source: bloomberg.com), so these practices will be essential for turning the tide and keeping our students and their families well.

Food and sanitation supplies for distribution
Food and sanitation supplies for distribution
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Caitlyn with team of International Trainees
Caitlyn with team of International Trainees

United States based dancer and MindLeaps trainer, Caitlyn, spent several weeks at the MindLeaps center in Guinea. While there she led the first ever iteration of MindLeaps Training for Professional dancers in the field. This training allowed dancers from the United States, Canada, Italy, and England to learn from and work with local Guinean Teachers and Staff. Emmanuel, winner of the Inaugural Annual MindLeaps Scholarship and lead refugee trainer in Rwanda's Mahama Refugee Camp traveled across the continent to participate. Read more about Emmanuel here!

Here's what Caitlyn had to say about her trip:

"I have just spent three weeks working with the MindLeaps team in Conakry, Guinea. My work on this trip was two fold. First, I led a group of four international dance trainers through advanced training of MindLeaps’ kinesthetic-based curricula, specialized teaching methodologies and practical data collection process. In just two weeks time, these four trainers learned MindLeaps standardized dance and choreography curricula, worked with local trainers and staff on specialized projects and had in field experience teaching MindLeaps students alongside local dance teachers.

Secondly, I worked with the local dance teachers and a group of performance students on a choreographic project titled “Our Voices.” In this project, we used dance to tell each child’s unique and inspiring story of personal transformation.

My time in Guinea was short but full. We danced, laughed, learned and certainly, sweat a whole lot! As I head back to the United States, I know I will carry with me the immense passion and boundless energy of Guinea."

Guinean Students in rehearsal
Guinean Students in rehearsal
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Guinea students on their first day of school!
Guinea students on their first day of school!

New School Year in Guinea

It's the beginning of the school year in Guinea and with it comes a lot of exciting news for MindLeaps. Last year, we were able to send 16 MindLeaps students to school. This year, we are sending an additional 52 students to Primary, Secondary, and Vocational Training schools! Thanks to your support, we are now able to sponsor the education of 68 young people in Guinea. To aid in this transition, MindLeaps International Coordinator, Eugene Dushime has traveled to our center in Conakry. Dushime, the fomer country director of our Rwanda program, has mastered the massive task of organizing the transition to school, a task that also includes the organizing of new backpacks, pencils, notebooks, and other necessary school supplies.

In a country with a literacy rate of only about 32% for adults aged 15 years and over (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2014), the abilty for a child to go to school is rare. Your generosity allows nearly 70 vulerable youth the opportunity for brighter futures. Thank you!!

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MindLeaps Success Story

Only a few years ago, Saifou was a MindLeaps student in Guinea. Now, as a member of the International MindLeaps Team, he travels all across the continent delivering the MindLeaps program to vulnerable children in many countries. This month, he had the opportunity to travel to Kenya to help lauch a new program in Kisumu. This project was especially exciting because it marked the launch of our new inclusive curriculum that allows the MindLeaps program to better work with students with greater and different learning needs. Even more exciting is that for the first time, each of the 5 MindLeaps countries were represented in a single program. The team included trainers from Guinea, Mauritania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya!

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NYC Train The Trainers Comes to Guinea

For the first time, our New York City based Train The Trainers program for professional dancers is formally heading to the field. After a 2-week intensive training in NYC this summer, trainers will travel to Guinea for Tier 2 of their training in December. While in Guinea, the trainers will have rigorous 8-hour days that are filled with intensive dance movment and teaching. They will gain experience working in the field learning from experienced MindLeaps staff and working with MindLeaps students. We are excited for the first iteration of this training program to happen at our shining Conakry center. Check back with us in the new year to hear stories from the week!

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The children joining the MindLeaps program in Conakry have faced constant challenges and instability in their lives – often with no secure housing, no educational opportunities, and unpredictable living conditions.

MindLeaps becomes an important anchor for them – a point of attachment, engagement and support, giving them hope and aspirations for a better future. They find a welcoming, safe space, where the MindLeaps program puts them on a path to achieve their goals through the development of cognitive skills and the opportunity for formal education. Two MindLeaps students, sisters Kadiatou, 15, and Aminata, 13, are currently facing a situation threatening their home, but in spite of their difficulties, continue to come regularly to classes at the center. They’ve said “We would be more afraid of losing the opportunities offered by MindLeaps than losing our home.” MindLeaps gives them something they can count on.

The young people at MindLeaps in Guinea are individuals, each with their own story.

10-year-old Alhassane had never attended school before coming to MindLeaps. In the mornings he would do chores at home and then go to the market to find his mom, to see if she had money for his breakfast. The rest of the day he spent aimlessly wandering the streets. After joining MindLeaps, he has been able to learn dance and study English. At MindLeaps, Alhassane says he has found a place where he can learn. Otherwise, he says “I would be hanging around in the street, maybe trying to find a lady in the neighborhood to help me learn the alphabet.”

Young Laye had also never attended school. Every day he got up and first fetched water for his family, then went off into the streets looking for people who would pay him something to get water for them. With the support of MindLeaps, Laye no longer spends his days in the streets. He has learned his numbers and the alphabet, and is now able to write.

Pierre is 8 years old and his family could never afford the fees to send him to school. He fetched water in the morning and if he had nothing to eat at home, he went from neighbor to neighbor looking for food. MindLeaps has opened up a new world to him. Now Pierre can come to a place where education is free and he is able to get at least one meal a day. The support MindLeaps provides is making it possible for him to learn and grow.

MindLeaps is a comfortable space, offering social support as well. Ousmane is a young boy who had never attended school and would spend his days outside, playing idly or sitting by his mom as she tried to sell small items on the street. At MindLeaps, he learned to dance and most important, gained self- confidence. He has made friends and says that without MindLeaps, he would most likely be isolated, just keeping to himself.

Your generosity is helping MindLeaps give these children a sense of belonging and purpose. They are developing cognitive and social skills that will open the door to a brighter future for themselves and their communities.

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The MindLeaps Center in Conakry receives over 60 children a day who come to participate in dance classes. Early in the year, we increased the hours of dance instruction to meet increasing demand as word of the program spreads in the community.

Our teachers are at the heart of our activity and they continue to motivate and inspire students. For example, instructor Ibrahima Camara teaches the younger children, 7-9 years old, which can be a difficult age group. But Ibrahima has a knack for working with these younger kids and they have shown amazing progress under his guidance. They have even begun to choreograph their own dance moves, which is a thrill to watch!

MindLeaps has recently set up a volunteer program in cooperation with the American International School of Conakry. In February, twelve student volunteers from the American International School began participating in weekend activities at the MindLeaps center. The volunteers take part in 45 minutes of dance class along with MindLeaps students, followed by leading group activities, such as reading and interactive games. MindLeaps kids are becoming more self-confident as they realize they can meet and connect with other children, sharing these moments together.

Also in February, Amara Condé paid a visit to the center. Amara was one of the first children to participate in the early MindLeaps program in partnership with Association Benka-Fissa in Kindia, Guinea, in 2011. Today Amara lives in the United States. At the MindLeaps center, he led a weekend hip hop class and spent time talking with the children about his experiences. The kids loved the class and he was a great role model for them.

In addition to dance and English classes, it is important for the children at MindLeaps to develop a sense of responsibility, so older students are asked to help out at the center. They watch over the younger kids during breaks, help with serving meals, maintaining the yard and general housekeeping. This regular commitment helps them understand that MindLeaps is like a family, where everyone has a role to play in making the family function well.

With your support, the children at MindLeaps are making strides toward breaking the poverty cycle in the aftermath of Ebola, and are moving ahead to a better future.

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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
$20,893 raised of $25,000 goal
 
171 donations
$4,107 to go
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