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Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth

by MindLeaps
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth
Post-Ebola Guinea: Educate & Empower The Youth

MindLeaps’ dance curriculum works to develop the cognitive and social emotional skills that will help vulnerable youth in Guinea get back on track with their schooling. In addition to dance classes, academic catch up courses are a key part of the MindLeaps program. Academic acceleration classes prepare students for entry into the formal education system or vocational training. English classes are an important part of the program at the MindLeaps center.

The opportunity to learn is changing the lives of children in Conakry, and MindLeaps has given many of them their first opportunity to learn English. 8-year-old Souleymane had never attended school. He stayed home to do chores, fetched water for the family, and then went out with his older sister to sell bananas on the street. Since joining MindLeaps, Souleymane has been learning English and dance. In fact, his mother is now telling him not to go out selling so he can attend his classes at the center instead.

Before starting classes at MindLeaps, young Sayon had also never attended school. She stayed at home doing housework all day and only went out to go to the local market. At MindLeaps she learned the alphabet, how to count in English and French, and she is now reading in English. Sayon says she loves this chance to learn. Dancing has given her confidence and she now has a community of friends at MindLeaps.

M’mahawa is 10 years old and had dropped out of school after 1st grade. She is happy at MindLeaps because she is able to dance, and now can read and write in English. She says that if MindLeaps weren’t there, she would be at home helping her mom and having a hard time trying to study on her own.

13-year-old Akime left school in the 3rd grade because his mother could no longer pay his school fees. At MindLeaps he has been able to start learning again – dance, drawing and English. Without MindLeaps, he says he would just be staying at home or playing in the streets.

The MindLeaps program in Guinea has been serving children 9 to 18 years old. Now for the first time, we are also reaching out to older youth from the community. In April, our center began offering a new program of free English courses aimed at youth age 18 to 30. Once word was out, there was an enthusiastic response from over 40 young people who signed up for the course. 32 students were enrolled, with another 10 interested youth on a waiting list. Courses were launched in May with two groups – a beginners’ group of 16 students, and a second group of 16 who already had some basic familiarity with English. Each group meets two evenings a week for two hours a session. The year-long course is run and administered by MindLeaps in collaboration with the US Embassy in Guinea.

There is a keen interest among youth to learn English. Fluency in English is seen as a major asset in today’s world, opening up opportunities to communicate on a wider scale and take full advantage of everything information technology has to offer. With your support we are able to create these new opportunities for vulnerable youth in Guinea. Education is enabling them to help move their families and community toward full recovery from the devastating after effects of the Ebola crisis.

New community English class
New community English class

Thanks to your generosity, the MindLeaps program in Guinea is growing. 2019 began with over 75 children enrolled at our center in Conakry, well beyond our projection of 50 students. To meet the demands of expanded enrollment, we have increased the hours of our dance program, and of English classes as well.

The meal program at the MindLeaps center continues to be an important element in our kids’ development, making up in part for lack of proper nutrition at home. Nearly 90% of the children who come for dance classes have had nothing to eat that day. The noon meals provided at the center include porridge with milk, rice dishes, and spaghetti. For many kids, lunch at MindLeaps is their main source of nutrition for the day.

Hygiene is another important element in the well-being of the children who come to the center. Many of their home environments do not allow for the personal hygiene necessary for good health. At MindLeaps, there are facilities for them to wash properly. In addition, all new students are given a kit containing soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a towel, and basic dance clothes. The kit is of course essential for good hygiene, but is also a psychologically important boost for kids who feel they never have had anything personal of their own.

As the population of children we serve expands, your support is vitally important in allowing us to maintain tanks of water in sufficient supply, stock food items for meals, and purchase personal hygiene products.

Making a change in the lives of vulnerable youth in Guinea also means going beyond the child alone and reaching out to the family as well. As part of the MindLeaps holistic approach, we believe it is crucial to involve parents and other family members in the child’s experience. At the beginning of the year, MindLeaps staff held a meeting with parents of new students to explain the goals of the program and the importance of letting their kids come to classes on a regular basis. It was also a chance for parents to get to know staff and see the center for the first time. Staff discussed the importance of family support and encouragement, and emphasized the vital role parents play in assuring the success of their children.

The group meeting with parents was followed up by staff visits to individual homes so they could become familiar with the environment in which each child lives. Understanding a child’s family and home life better enables MindLeaps staff to make ongoing decisions in the best interests of each child, ensuring that individual needs are met. Personal attention to each child is another key to developing the skills and confidence that will carry them forward in their lives.

The students who began the MindLeaps program in 2017 have now gone on to formal schooling, vocational training or income earning opportunities. The dance program, as well as the English and French literacy courses at the MindLeaps Center, had built their confidence, helped develop their skills, and given them hope for a brighter future.

As word spreads among children in the community that MindLeaps is a door to education, more and more kids are eager to join the program. In the last two months since new classes have begun, more than 25 children have joined, and we are moving toward our goal of enrolling at least 50 students.

A key element in the success of the program is the ongoing training of MindLeaps teachers. This month, one of MindLeaps' international training staff - Anna Defent - has been working with local trainers at the Center in Conakry.

Anna Defent is Canadian and a graduate of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. She currently lives in London, working as a professional contemporary dancer.  She participated in MindLeaps' Train the Trainer program in June 2018 in New York City to learn MindLeaps' curricula and monitoring and evaluation system, Tracker.  She was asked to join MindLeaps as one of our international trainers and traveled to Guinea to lead the training of new staff at MindLeaps Guinea.  She is focusing on training the staff in how to teach MindLeaps' contemporary curriculum. 

"I’m thrilled to be going to a country where people have such deep passion and love for dance." For Anna, dance is "a way to inspire and help others succeed." And with your support, the program at MindLeaps is doing just that – putting young people on a path to education and training, so they can break the poverty cycle and take positive control of their lives.

Anna Defent training new MindLeaps Instructors
Anna Defent training new MindLeaps Instructors
Anna teaches class to MindLeaps students
Anna teaches class to MindLeaps students
MindLeaps Students Will Head to School This Month
MindLeaps Students Will Head to School This Month

The next school year begins later this month in Guinea. This is an important moment: it marks the “graduation” of MindLeaps students who have been with us for one year and who are ready to reintegrate into school. We have searched for local schools and vocational training programs and partners so that we can reintegrate all the students who are ready to enter formal education. Schools were visited to choose the best, taking into account proximity. Among the schools visited were Emmauss School Group and Lemou School Group in the Nongo area.

Each student is matched with a sponsor to afford the cost of basic school supplies, uniforms and meals to ensure regular attendance.  Students who still need sponsors as well as profiles of sponsored children are viewable online here: mindleapssponsorships.weebly.com

When a class graduates from MindLeaps and enters formal education, then we are able to recruit the next group of vulnerable children to start at our center in the program. Thus, our next recruitment is in process, and we will report on the newest class of MindLeaps students in the next quarterly report.

In July 2018, we were fortunate to receive a donation from Foundation We Help towards MindLeaps’ meal program. Foundation We Help is a humanitarian organization that supports the most needy with the goal of reducing social inequalities. In July 2018, Foundation We Help donated a variety of food items - including rice, filtered water, spaghetti, and butter - towards MindLeaps' meal program in Guinea, as well as some children's clothing. The donation and distribution was recently covered in local press. The article is available online here: http://224infos.org/publireportage/7030/humanitaire-la-fondation-we-help-fait-un-don-au-centre-de-reinsertion-de-nongo.html

Our center in Conakry has enabled us to provide our dance and English classes and meal program for 44 students every day since July 2017. MindLeaps is growing, and there is demand for us to serve more children in Conakry. Our Country Director is now looking for a space where we could serve 100 students daily.

We hope that by this time next year we will be able to serve twice as many kids in Guinea!

Thank you for making what we do possible each and everyday.

Thank you to Foundation We Help for your donation!
Thank you to Foundation We Help for your donation!
Lions Club donation
Lions Club donation

In April 2018, MindLeaps Guinea received a donation of 50 Sanitation Kits from the local chapter of Leo Club Dame de Loura of Lions Club International of Guinea. This donation gave each student their own sanitation kit, which is a personal box that includes a towel, flip flops, toothbrush, jogging pants, water bottle, nail clippers, shower gel, as well as sanitary napkins for female students. These items are an essential part of the sanitation program provided at the MindLeaps Center in Guinea.  The kits are provided alongside lessons teaching students important health and sanitation practices. Many thanks to the Lions Club for this generous donation and support of our students!

MindLeaps Guinea is part of an exciting collaboration taking place this 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.  Salifou Camara and Morlaye Bangoura will be representing MindLeaps Guinea.

Salifou, one of these trainers, was a student at MindLeaps before it was even called “MindLeaps”. Back in 2011, Salifou joined dance classes in the town of Kindia. Salifou was like many teenagers in the area who attended school irregularly and floated between extremely poor living conditions at home and on the streets. Fascinated with dance and acrobatics, Salifou joined the dance program at the community center. A talented and hard-working student, Salifou went from being a student to being promoted as a teaching assistant in 2014.  In 2016, he was trained to become a full teacher. Since then, he has been teaching in MindLeaps Guinea’s programs in Kindia and Conakry. In 2017, he joined MindLeaps international team traveling to Rwanda, Uganda, and Mauritania with MindLeaps and establishing new MindLeaps partnership programs. He is now excited to be a part of the team again in Rwanda this summer.

Also right now in NYC, five dancers are being trained to become MindLeaps dance teachers. MindLeaps programs are growing across the world and we are developing new teachers to staff our programs. These five dancers from 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 Salifou – through a Skype session on Wednesday, June 13th. (Photo within.)

Thank you for your continued support that has helped our students and teachers in Guinea gain skills, jobs, and bright futures!

MindLeaps Guinea Teachers arrive in Kigali
MindLeaps Guinea Teachers arrive in Kigali
Skype with MindLeaps Trainers in Africa and USA
Skype with MindLeaps Trainers in Africa and USA
 

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Organization Information

MindLeaps

Location: New York - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @MindLeaps
Project Leader:
Rebecca Davis
Astoria, New York United States
$495 raised of $50,000 goal
 
6 donations
$49,505 to go
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