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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
New students at MindLeaps Guinea
New students at MindLeaps Guinea

Our new center in Guinea has now been in operation for several months serving 44 vulnerable youth from Conakry. The students come to this safe space to receive MindLeaps' dance curriculum (2 hours of dance class per day, 3 days per week), English lessons (2 hours per day, 3 days per week), and a daily meal. 

October marked a big month for two of our students in Guinea: Aissatou and Kerfala were welcomed by a wonderful team of teachers at Hamdallaye Secondary School. The students were both overjoyed, captured by Kerfala who said, “I never dreamed that one day I would be going to this school!”  Our Country Director in Guinea, Ansoumane Conde, recently wrote a blog post about their return to school. For each MindLeaps student, our job is to match his/her educational level and their desires to create a successful and happy future with the right next step, whether that is through formal schooling or vocational training. Ansoumane wrote, "When we see these children going to school, it inspires me to do this work. It is extraordinary to see a child who has never laughed or played transform into a 'regular child'. When new children enter our program, you might not see any smiles for the first week. But, after a little encouragement, it changes. The children feel their skills and life improving day by day, and their smiles shine brighter and brighter. MindLeaps is opening their eyes to their own talents and means to have a better life."  

Another possible career path is through success in dancing at MindLeaps.  In both our Rwanda and Guinea locations, some of our teachers were former MindLeaps students themselves, who excelled in their skills and dancing, and became great teachers to other students.  Starting today, we will be training 10 new local Guinean teachers in MindLeaps' methodology. The teachers are receiving instruction from MindLeaps Rwanda dance teacher Ssali Eugene, and American dancer, Cassidy Giordano, who will be traveling to Conakry, Guinea, for one month to run this training program.  After completing the program, these teachers will be able to teach the full MindLeaps curriculum to youth. They will be an essential part of MindLeaps' ability to provide its services to new populations of youth. 

Thank you for your continued support to make this work possible!

Aissatou and Kerfala newly enrolled in school!
Aissatou and Kerfala newly enrolled in school!

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New students in MindLeaps Guinea
New students in MindLeaps Guinea

June, July and August have been important development months for our programs in Guinea. Our permanent center has been established in Conakry so that we can provide our dance and English classes in the same safe space for several years to come. This year’s program has launched in Conakry with 22 – and already now 44 – students. Our top teachers from our Kindia program, dance teacher Salifou Camara and English teacher Mr. Doumboya, have joined a team of eight more Guineans to lead this program in Conakry.

Kimberly Kamara and Julia Sawatzky volunteered with MindLeaps Guinea in June and July 2017. They worked together to test MindLeaps’ intake questionnaire - developed to capture the circumstances and stories of kids who come into the MindLeaps program - for appropriateness in a Guinean context, and analyze factors contributing to childhood vulnerability and school success in Guinea. Kimberly Kamara has more than 10 years experience working in the international development sector, working at the END Fund, Orbis International-HQ, and The Carter Center. Julia Sawatzky is a medical student from Edmonton, Canada and worked in the field in Guinea. Julia wrote when starting the intake questionnaire project:

“Firstly, there was difficulty with the understanding and interpretation of certain questions, which meant that a group of 11 kids could all hear the same question and answer it in really different ways. This variety of interpretations, although interesting, hindered our ability to capture a consistent set of variables about each child that could be compiled and compared throughout their group. Part of this can be attributed, I have realized, to the fact that Guinea is an exceptionally multilingual society – with most kids speaking at least three different local languages, as well as French. The linguistics and phrasing of each question, therefore, needs to be really carefully thought out and tested across all of the languages, and with various translators, to ensure that the meaning stays the same and makes sense within the cultural context. The cultural overlay that impacts how this questionnaire works certainly affects understanding and interpretation, but also significantly impacts appropriateness and comfort levels. Certain subjects were very embarrassing or emotionally painful for children to talk about in this initial testing, and we want to eliminate this discomfort as much as possible. In doing so, we hope to make children feel safe and respected in MindLeaps and open to discussing their unique circumstances.”

After several weeks of interviews, research and analysis, the tool had been changed, developed and tested for use with community children and future MindLeaps students. Towards the end of her volunteer work, Julia explained, "It is promising to see that our tool is an appropriate starting point for getting to know and being able to help these vulnerable and beautiful kids. Whenever I am getting a bit weighed down by these heavy and heart-wrenching stories, all I need to do is peep out of the office door at our current group of dancing kids, and be awash in the feeling of hope that all of their potential brings. On my final day dancing with the kids, seeing the progress that they have made and the MindLeaps skills they have nurtured in just three weeks this summer was the absolute biggest source of joy – and is the memory that I’m sure will stick with me the most strongly once I am gone."

To read more about Julia's experiences at MindLeaps Guinea visit our blog at www.mindleaps.org/blog

Dance class in Guinea
Dance class in Guinea
Julia Sawatzky with MindLeaps students
Julia Sawatzky with MindLeaps students
New Center in Conakry
New Center in Conakry

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Performance by new MindLeaps students on May 19
Performance by new MindLeaps students on May 19

Salifou, one of the teachers from our MindLeaps Guinea program, recently travelled to Mauritania, West Africa.  Here, he worked side-by-side with our international team to deliver our dance program to youth in the capital city of Nouakchott.  Like our Guinean students, youth in Mauritania struggle to have the psychosocial support necessary to regularly attend school while handling the day-to-day challenges of street life.

Created in partnership with the local NGO SOS Pairs Educateurs, the program provided three months of dance classes to 125 youth plus training in MindLeaps curriculum to several local teachers.  You can see a short video with Salifou in Mauritania here: https://youtu.be/gek6qzuV7HA.

After three months, the students came together for a performance and demonstration for the local community on May 19, 2017.  The students went through a variety of the exercises and choreography they had learned and spoke about their experiences in the MindLeaps program.  

We had many students grow and succeed over the course of their time in the program. One particular girl, Fatimata, grew in every skill area over the three months and took the stage with confidence. See a video of Fatimata during the final performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-V4FHwDN7k

Our Guinea program will also welcome a new volunteer this summer. Kimberly Kamara has a Masters in Public Health from Mt. Sinai Graduate School and is the Program Director at The END Fund, an initiative to combat the five most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that, together, cause up to 90% of the NTD burden in sub-Saharan Africa. Kimberly will be evaluating the intake procedures and other public health resources provided by MindLeaps programs in Kindia and Conakry.

Final performance - May 19, 2017
Final performance - May 19, 2017
Salifou (left), from MindLeaps Guinea
Salifou (left), from MindLeaps Guinea
Kimberly
Kimberly

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One Step Closer to School - Shoes!
One Step Closer to School - Shoes!

You are receiving this Project Report since you are a current supporter of the MindLeaps Global Giving Program: “Help 250 Youth Recover from Ebola in Guinea”.

Post-Ebola Reconstruction

Ebola has faded in our minds and the challenges in Guinea have changed from crisis relief to poverty alleviation.  The impact of the epidemic still amplifies all of the challenges regular citizens face to survive each and every day in a country that ranks 182nd on the UN’s 2015 Human Development Index.

For this reason, we are particularly excited to share with you news about a new donor that has joined with you to support youth and families in Guinea.  This new donor is Ruben’s Shoes, an organization based in Canada, and it has sent 13,800 pairs of shoes to Guinea for MindLeaps to distribute to those affected by Ebola and most in need of basic living support.

The Power of A Pair of Shoes

In Guinea, shoes are needed in order to go to school. This basic resource, however, can be difficult to find or overwhelmingly expensive – particularly for those youth that are involved in MindLeaps’ programs.

In order to address this need, we partnered with the Canadian NGO Ruben’s Shoes.  Ruben’s Shoes collects gently used shoes and gives them to people in need. In 2016, Ruben’s Shoes collected over 13,000 pairs of shoes from children, adults and companies all across Canada.  Then, we worked together to ship the container all the way to Guinea. It took several months for the container to make the journey around the world from Vancouver, Canada, to the port in Guinea. 

Since the container’s arrival, MindLeaps has been working in partnership with The Guinean Ministry of Social Affairs led by Madame Sanaba Kaba to distribute the shoes to various orphanages and children in need across the region, including Orphelinat enfants et jeunes Compassion, Orphelinat source de vie and Orphelinat Karana.

Guinea's national television station, RTG, reported on the joint effort to distribute these shoes to vulnerable youth. You can view the clip online here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4Zgnc_hIgY (in French)

Post-Ebola Guinea is still recovering from the tragic loss of life and massive economic collapse.  A pair of shoes to an orphan, who has lost his/her parents, can be a meaningful gift.

Thank You

Thanks to your donations, we are able to tackle the challenges of poverty and the necessity for basic supplies in Guinea.  Your critical dollars are giving MindLeaps students a path towards education – and now they have a pair of shoes to wear on their new journey.

Merci beaucoup! 

Shoe Distribution in Guinea
Shoe Distribution in Guinea
Shoes from Canada Going to Children in Guinea
Shoes from Canada Going to Children in Guinea

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Alseny
Alseny

You are receiving this Project Report since you are a current supporter of the MindLeaps GlobalGiving Program: “Help 250 Youth Recover from Ebola in Guinea.” 

The Story of Alseny… 

On Saturday, November 26th, MindLeaps Guinea, in partnership with EDUGRADE, invited the families of 44 of our youth together.  These families watched some of our students present their work and describe how their lives are changing after Ebola. 

In particular, the story of Alseny was shared: 

Alseny lives in Conakry, the capital city of Guinea.  Although Conakry was not severely impacted during the Ebola epidemic, the crisis brought new levels of poverty to families that were already struggling.

Alseny is 12 years old.  His father died and his mother is blind.  Alseny lives with his uncle, but his uncle is handicapped.  Everyday, Alseny goes onto the street to try to scrounge and beg for food to support his eight brothers and sisters.  Since he has to spend all his time on the streets, he dropped out of primary school.

On November 26th, Alseny was not a “street boy”.  He stood up in front of all of the families and guests and spoke about what he learned at MindLeaps: 

I came here because I heard you could take dance classes, and I love to dance.  Then, I saw that MindLeaps is also helping us learn skills – like English and IT.  This is the first time I have learned something since dropping out of school.

As part of our work supported by the generous donations of people like you, MindLeaps now gives Alseny’s uncle and mother crucial living support, including oil for cooking and rice sacks.  The uncle and mother receive the support on the condition that Alseny will be allowed to participate in the MindLeaps program instead of having to work on the streets.

The story of Alseny reminds us that it is a long, complicated journey to help families recover from poverty and epidemics – but there is will, both from the children and their relatives.

Together, we can save the next generation. 

Thank you for giving Alseny and his family the chance to survive in Guinea.

Families of MindLeaps' Youth
Families of MindLeaps' Youth
November 26th Gathering
November 26th Gathering
Children Learning IT with MindLeaps & EDUGRADE
Children Learning IT with MindLeaps & EDUGRADE
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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
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