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 Children  Uganda Project #33899

Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future

by MindLeaps
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future
MindLeaps class at Oruchinga Refugee Settlement
MindLeaps class at Oruchinga Refugee Settlement

The MindLeaps program in Kampala continues to grow in partnership with local organizations Save Street Children Uganda, M-Lisada and Communaute Evangelique El-Shaddai. We are currently working with 100 urban refugee children and Ugandan youth weekly through our dance program.

In 2019, MindLeaps also launched its first program in a refugee camp in Uganda. We are working in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Oruchinga Refugee Settlement, where we will serve 450 children from February to November. Our team will be based there for nine months to collect data on the impact of the program and train a group of 20 youth leaders from the camp to maintain the program in 2020.

In fact, MindLeaps has developed a model centered on the training and support of local youth to carry the program forward, providing employment opportunities for refugees and local Ugandans. The training of local youth as dance teachers is a key feature of MindLeaps’ involvement in the communities it serves.

Daglous is one of the local youth now working as a MindLeaps trainer in Uganda. You sense his strong motivation and commitment when he talks about his role as a teacher. “I have nothing to give the kids – I don’t have money, but what I have to give them is dance. I give them dance so they can improve their talents, improve their future and be good people. I don’t want to see them suffering, I don’t want to see them doing bad things.”

It is very clear how much the classes mean to the students. Fred says the dance program helped him build fitness. “I can do so much that I couldn’t do before. And I’ve made new friends.” Akena, too, says that he has made many friends at MindLeaps. “You learn to share, to do what you’re supposed to do, what you feel – not follow people who push you the wrong way.” Jovine talks about the joy of dance. “I used to dream of becoming a ballet dancer, but I didn’t expect it to happen. MindLeaps has made my dream come true and I am happy to be a part of it.”

As MindLeaps Uganda Country Director Martha Bua Peace puts it, “MindLeaps is a safe space where children can explore their options without judgement, learn and imagine a happier future.” With your support, MindLeaps continues to provide a safe, supportive environment, away from the violence and chaos these children have known, where they can express themselves, develop and grow.

MindLeaps Dance Trainer Daglous
MindLeaps Dance Trainer Daglous

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Life can be hard for refugee youth with few resources and inadequate schooling. Vesta is a young girl, 15 years old, who left her struggling family to look for a job in Kampala, Uganda. But without any secondary education, she couldn’t find work in the city. She turned to life on the street, where finding food and a place to sleep was all she hoped for. She said she and other street kids were often caned by the police. “Life just got heavier. I joined a bad crowd and started using cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana . . . and life continued on.” Through the organization Save Street Children Uganda, Vesta eventually got needed support and found a community of other kids in her situation. Some new friends told her about dance classes they were taking, and she discovered MindLeaps. As Vesta tells the story, “When I started, everyone was laughing at me because I didn’t understand anything. But I came again and I tried to do a little more. And again and again – I kept coming and trying. Now I can count my muscles!” Her success at MindLeaps showed Vesta that she was capable of facing a challenge and learning new skills. Even more important, she learned to believe in herself, and with her renewed sense of confidence is eager to start school again.

MindLeaps’ ability to touch the lives of young people like Vesta depends very much on its dedicated staff. In addition to its teachers, MindLeaps relies on its highly qualified and committed administrative staff for the smooth and effective operation of the program. MindLeaps has recently welcomed its new Country Director in Uganda, Martha Bua Peace. Her extensive background and experience working in refugee settings make her a valuable addition to the team.

Martha is a social worker and NGO administrator. She was field coordinator of Uganda Youth Empowerment. She has worked at Refuge and Hope International as a social worker in a shelter for female survivors of sexual and gender based violence. She was also the Psychosocial Program Manager at the refugee organization Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Martha worked as a consultant for Playing to Live on the Care for Caregivers program aimed at addressing psychological wellness needs for front-line staff working in refugee settlements in the West Nile Region of Uganda. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Gender Studies at Makerere University with a special interest in Gender and Forced Migration.

With your generous support, Martha and all of MindLeaps’ dedicated staff continue to carry forward the work of helping vulnerable children make positive changes in their lives and their communities.

MindLeaps Uganda Country Director Martha Bua Peace
MindLeaps Uganda Country Director Martha Bua Peace

All too common among refugees in Kampala are children who have been robbed of their childhood. A vast number of refugees are children – kids who have seen violence, lost their homes, and are hopeless and helpless. At MindLeaps they find a safe space where they are free to be children again. As one refugee worker explains, “They have no happy memories, but at MindLeaps they find a program that looks at their creative side. Dance for them is associated with happiness – it helps them forget the horrors of war and conflict, build new memories, and imagine a brighter future.” MindLeaps dance classes are a place where they can make new friends. They can learn and explore options without being judged, encouraged by the teachers who engage them with love, patience and understanding.

The MindLeaps program coordinator in Uganda reports that teen mothers often experience particular problems. They are forced to grow up much too fast when they have children of their own. All of their 'kid activities' stop because they must look after themselves and their baby, often with no support from the community. These young girls are left to their own devices, feeling isolated. One 16-year-old had given birth a year before joining MindLeaps. From the start, she came back day after day to attend dance classes. Her teachers could see her delight and enthusiasm as she interacted with the other children. In her own words, “This has helped me know that I did not lose my childhood. I can play with no one looking over my shoulder. This is the only place where I come and I feel safe and happy.”


Training the trainers

It is the MindLeaps teachers who reach out to these children and have a direct hand in influencing their lives. Highly skilled teachers are the key to the success of the MindLeaps program, so a crucial part of the MindLeaps model focuses on the training of local youth to carry the program forward as teachers in refugee communities.

In November and December of this year, MindLeaps is running an intensive Train the Trainer program in Gatsibo, Rwanda. Among the participants are Pius, Ronnie and Abdul from Uganda. Pius is assisting in the training, and Ronnie and Abdul are there as trainees to perfect their teaching techniques to carry out the dance program in Uganda.

Participants will be trained in the MindLeaps curriculum and in Tracker, the software program that collects data and measures development of critical learning skills. Training sessions include the specifics of the dance curriculum and methodology, class and behavior management techniques, and cognitive theory (how skills are taught through movement). Learning to use Tracker will enable teachers to get direct feedback from dance classes, allowing them to monitor student progress and adjust dance exercises to particular needs. Pius, Ronnie and Abdul will return to Uganda with their skills honed and the tools they need to effectively serve refugee children.

Giving Tuesday

Tuesday, November 27, is #GivingTuesday. Your donation made on this day will have an even greater impact on the work of MindLeaps.

GlobalGiving has set up an Incentive Fund to augment your contribution. Your gift to any of MindLeaps' projects on GlobalGiving on Tuesday starting at 12:01AM EST will be matched by a percentage of this Fund.

Please note, only online donations (credit card, debit card, PayPal, ApplePay, and official GlobalGiving gift cards) will count toward totals raised on #GivingTuesday.

Giving Tuesday is truly an opportunity to make your contribution go further toward inspiring refugee youth in Uganda with a sense of hope for their futures.

One of our students in Kampala tries a c-jump!
One of our students in Kampala tries a c-jump!
Refugee youth learn in Train The Trainer in Rwanda
Refugee youth learn in Train The Trainer in Rwanda

Thank you for donating to the project "Help Refugee Youth in Uganda Find A Future." We are happy to provide you with quarterly updates on our work in Uganda and the impact that your gift has had on many young lives.

Throughout 2018, MindLeaps work with refugee youth in Uganda has been expanding, and we are now working with four local NGO partners: 

Save Street Children Uganda: http://www.sascu.org

M-Lisada: https://mlisada.org

Refuge & Hope: http://www.refugeandhope.org

REHORE. http://rehore.org

The over 100 students at these four locations receive dance class three days per week with six hours of instruction weekly. The purpose of these classes is to build children's resilience and improve their mental health.  MindLeaps achieves this through a standardized curriculum that uses movement patterns to develop social-emotional learning skills in vulnerable youth. 

MindLeaps has trained several local teachers in Uganda to teach all of these classes. Three of these teachers traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, this summer for a three-month training to improve their teaching skills in dance technique, MindLeaps' curricula, and child safety policies.

One of these outstanding teachers, Zani, is a refugee youth herself.  She attended the MindLeaps pilot program in Uganda in 2017 as a student. Her talents and dedication were recognized, and she is now a MindLeaps trainer, teaching other refugee youth to dance.  Zani is an example of how MindLeaps is growing across Africa: equipping youth leaders with the curriculum and skills to empower their own communities!

MindLeaps Dance Class at M-LISADA
MindLeaps Dance Class at M-LISADA
MindLeaps Dance Class at Refuge & Hope
MindLeaps Dance Class at Refuge & Hope
MindLeaps Dance Class at REHORE
MindLeaps Dance Class at REHORE
MindLeaps at Save Street Children Uganda
MindLeaps at Save Street Children Uganda
Zani (left) teaching other refugee children
Zani (left) teaching other refugee children
 

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Organization Information

MindLeaps

Location: New York - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @MindLeaps
Project Leader:
Eleanor Milburn
New York, New York United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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