Education
 Rwanda
Project #16152

Street Scholars: From The Streets to The Classroom

by MindLeaps
Vetted
Eric - now leaping at school (Credit: Steve Organ)
Eric - now leaping at school (Credit: Steve Organ)

MindLeaps (formerly RDDC) is excited to announce that our goal has been reached: $50,000 to support street children!  This was made possible by YOU - the 247 donors that helped us over the last 18 months. 

What Did We Accomplish Together?

MindLeaps works in post-conflict countries to permanently decrease the number of street children – one of the primary problems facing states after years of war.  According to the Women’s Refugee Commission (2015), there are 40 million out-of-school children and youth in conflict-affected and fragile states.  The Government of Rwanda states there are 7,000 children living on the streets of Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali (2012), twenty years after the 1994 Tutsi Genocide.

With your contributions to our project, MindLeaps has lifted 75 youth out of poverty.  With every donation of $667, each child received the following support for an entire year:

  • 5 days/week of physical and emotional care
  • 6 hours of dance training per week
  • 4 hours of Computer Science classes per week
  • 2 hours of English language classes per week
  • Medical Insurance
  • Porridge & Rice Meals
  • Hygiene Support: wash clothes, shower, brush teeth, hair cuts 

What Impact Did You Have in Rwanda? 

Instead of us telling you about it, we wanted to share with you the words of Amanda Good of Hope For Life when she visited our program in Kigali:

"I'm so overwhelmed reflecting on this morning! I knew this organization was doing something special but to be there and to be able to watch a full class, I felt swept off my feet in joy and honored to have been able to come and see the work in action. 

There was one moment in particular that moved me. I was watching a boy as he was dancing across the room and he had one of the BIGGEST smiles I have ever seen! When I watched him glide across the room I was fighting back tears because it was so, so beautiful. I could feel a visible sense of freedom and joy in that room, therapy in motion."

What’s next?

Your constant support has made it possible for us to reach further in alleviating poverty and increasing access to education.  Our next step is to help youth in Guinea, West Africa, rebuild their lives after the Ebola crisis.  

We will, as always, continue to serve street youth in Rwanda through dance training to develop cognitive skills and Computer Science training to provide youth employment opportunities.  We have lifted 75 youth out of poverty – but there are still 6,925 in Kigali.

Please visit our new projects on GlobalGiving. 

Thank you from 75 children in Kigali!

Manishimwe - now at vocational school
Manishimwe - now at vocational school
Living on The Streets (Photo Credit: Steve Organ)
Living on The Streets (Photo Credit: Steve Organ)
Hygiene Program at MindLeaps (Credit: Steve Organ)
Hygiene Program at MindLeaps (Credit: Steve Organ)
Dance Class at MindLeaps
Dance Class at MindLeaps
Smiling in Dance
Smiling in Dance

Links:

Eric: a MindLeaps student
Eric: a MindLeaps student

You are receiving this Project Report since you are a current supporter of MindLeaps (formerly RDDC) GlobalGiving Program: “Street Scholars – From The Streets to The Classroom”.

Eric’s favorite pastime activity at MindLeaps is reading the English dictionary. He is eager to learn, often asking his teachers to explain the meaning of complicated words like ‘perspective’ so that he can practice them on any foreign guest that comes to visit. He has also been leaping ahead in his IT and dance classes.

About Eric

Eric, a former street child, has been with MindLeaps for over a year. He comes from an impoverished family and chose to live on the streets because there was not enough money at home. He finished some of primary school, but dropped out when he wasn’t able to find enough food outside of class.

Like many of our students, Eric was a talented and charming adolescent when he started at MindLeaps. However, he was lacking the commitment and drive to help him fully succeed in our program or move forward in life. After a year, he has changed immensely. He now attends class every day and is always early – whether to practice new dance moves, send an email to one of the many volunteers he has befriended, or practice a new English phrase. Eric has also agreed to return home in order to help his mother and younger siblings. When asked why, he told us it is because of MindLeaps staff who listened to his problems and taught him the importance of helping his family, even when it is not easy.  

Learning the Secret to Success: Hard work and Commitment

Eric explained that he started coming to MindLeaps more consistently because he “wants to change his life.” At MindLeaps, he sees an opportunity to learn. An opportunity that he hasn’t found elsewhere. In addition to Dance, IT, and English, Eric also recently took part in a 6-week entrepreneurship course that was offered at MindLeaps through Digital Opportunity Trust Rwanda (DOT). Here he learned how to make an action plan for a business, design a budget, and save money. He is now inspired to start his own business one day.

Many of our other students have also begun to master the core MindLeaps value: that success is only possible through hard work and perseverance. This value, reinforced from the first day they walk into the dance studio, is fundamental in changing the thought processes and dreams of our students. Because of your support, students like Eric are growing at MindLeaps and preparing themselves for a better future. Instead of feeling disempowered and thinking about what they can get from society, our students are now empowered, displaying leadership values, and taking initiative in their own education. Thank you for making this change possible.

 

Eric rehearsing with another student before class
Eric rehearsing with another student before class
Entrepreneurship training with DOT Rwanda
Entrepreneurship training with DOT Rwanda

Links:

Mark, Rene, and Jean de Dieu after class
Mark, Rene, and Jean de Dieu after class

You are receiving this Project Report since you are a current supporter of MindLeaps (formerly RDDC) GlobalGiving Program: “Street Scholars – From The Streets to The Classroom”.

Rwanda rw’ejo

There are many names for street children in Kinyarwanda, but today, the public no longer refers to these kids as ‘maibobo’ (an offensive term), but as ‘Rwanda rw’ejo’ – the leading generation of Rwanda’s future.

Two Leaders: Jean de Dieu and Rene

MindLeaps is currently hosting two top dancers in Kigali: Mark and Ashley, of Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal. They are providing special dance training for our local Rwandan teachers - a "train the trainers" workshop. Two of our top students, Jean de Dieu and Rene, have been given the special opportunity to attend this training. It is incredible to watch Jean de Dieu and Rene’s determination to pick up complicated dance steps at the same pace as their teachers. Their eagerness to learn is easily seen as they practice yesterday’s new moves over and over in the early morning hours before class.

These boys are natural leaders outside of the dance studio as well. Jean de Dieu is the brother to Passy, who is now succeeding at Sonrise boarding school (as highlighted in the last report). Jean de Dieu, who is twelve years old, began learning how to read and write for the first time when he joined MindLeaps last year. After dance class, Jean de Dieu, sits and copies letters of the alphabet from any simple book he can find. Just like in dance training, Jean de Dieu is determined to learn how to read and write, so that he can one day go to boarding school like his brother.

Rene, is often found looking after the young students in the program and restoring order in IT, English, and dance classes. Dancer, Ashleysaw that Rene was a natural leader in dance class and she had the opportunity to tell this to Rene’s mother during a visit to his home. Rene is a particular success story with MindLeaps. After attending our program for a year, he decided to leave the streets and return to his mother’s home in order to support his family. As a single mother of six children, life is not easy. Rene is the oldest in the family and works hard to take care of his younger siblings. His mother remarked that she is so thankful for the transformation that MindLeaps helped spark in Rene. As one of our top students, who has already come so far, we hope that Rene will one day be hired to join our team as a dance teacher– a solution that may lift his whole family out of poverty.

With their talent and motivation, we hope Jean de Dieu and Rene will one day teach dance to the next generation of street children. As they grow in self-esteem through dance and IT and continue to harness their leadership skills, there is no doubt that they will become the leaders of Rwanda’s future – rwanda rw’ejo.

Thank you for being a part of the future.

We would be grateful if you also considered sharing this project on Facebook and Twitter. 

Warm wishes and many thanks.

Ashley teaching MindLeaps students
Ashley teaching MindLeaps students
Visit at Rene
Visit at Rene's home
Teacher training with Mark
Teacher training with Mark

Links:

Passy
Passy

You are receiving this Project Report since you are a current supporter of MindLeaps (formerly RDDC) GlobalGiving Program: “Street Scholars – From The Streets to The Classroom”.

What’s new?

RDDC has officially changed its name on GlobalGiving to “MindLeaps”.  Same mission – same organization – same page…just a new name to better reflect what we do: use dance and vocational training to develop children’s minds and skills so they can leap forward in life.

Passy’s Story

Passy and his younger brother Jean di Dieu have been attending the MindLeaps’ program in Rwanda for nearly one year.  Unfortunately, they have no father and their mother, a genocide survivor, is HIV-positive.  Luckily, both boys are healthy but they have not been able to go to school and gradually became street children in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital.  They found the MindLeaps Center and started attending the dance class open to out-of-school youth.

Passy quickly developed in our program, showing tremendous curiosity and asking some of the most insightful questions we have heard: “why do I feel like I have more energy after dance class than before?”  “What skills do I need to have a job when I grow up?”  “How can I get health advice for my mother?”

Within three months, Passy was our top student in the dance program.  As you know, the MindLeaps’ dance program develops out-of-school children’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills while teachers grade students’ progress through a data application system.  (You can see how Passy’s skill development exceeded the class average in attached graph.) 

Having strengthened his learning skills, Passy continued to thrive in our computer training program whereby he learned typing, Internet usage and basic email. 

In January, Passy was selected to attend Sonrise Boarding School in Musanze, Rwanda.  He is thriving at school – both academically and socially.  He is doing well even though his peers are “regular children”.  Passy is no longer a street child and his mother is so proud of him.

What’s next?

Jean di Dieu, Passy’s little brother, is now starting to excel in the same way as his older brother.  He works diligently in the MindLeaps’ program.  Our goal is to get this little boy into boarding school too.  In this way, a family damaged by the 1994 Tutsi Genocide can finally recover from the atrocities that left them as innocent victims.

Thank you!

Thank you for giving Passy a chance at life and supporting the ongoing dance and technology programs at the MindLeaps Center in Rwanda. Now let's try to help his little brother!

We would be grateful if you also considered sharing this project on Facebook and Twitter. 

Warm wishes and many thanks.

Jean di Dieu
Jean di Dieu
Life on the Street
Life on the Street
Progress of Cognitive Development in Dance Class
Progress of Cognitive Development in Dance Class
A student
A student's first IT class in Rwanda

You are receiving this Project Report since you are a current supporter of the RDDC GlobalGiving Program: “Street Scholars – From The Streets to The Classroom”.

Can street kids code? 

RDDC (now “MindLeaps”) started teaching street children basic computer skills three years ago.  Children who had never held a pencil before or learned how to write their names were put in front of a laptop.  Our Rwandan teachers taught them to identify parts and repeat words like: “double click”, “save as”, and even “algorithm”. 

Three years later - with a more developed curriculum and years of field experience - we have some students who are learning to do much more complicated computer tasks, including: email, building websites, and playing games that revolve around the basics of computer programming.

One of our top students, Alphonse, sends me an email every week!

What can street kids do with computer skills?

The tech industry is growing rapidly in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.  Rwanda is positioning itself to be a leader and wants the entire population’s digital literacy to improve.  As such, there is an opportunity for kids like Alphonse to obtain basic jobs in computer/mobile repair, installation of applications and manual testing.

How can we help more kids?

These kids have accomplished so much in their computer classes that now MindLeaps has started to converse with the Ministry of Youth & ICT in Rwanda to determine how our program can serve street youth across the country.  There are at least 7,000 street children in the capital city of Kigali, and thousands more in all the rural corners of Rwanda. 

In 2015, we will be finalizing an agreement with several partners to help us ensure multiple children can be lifted off the streets through a program that teaches them one of the most important skills today: computer usage.

It’s because of you that we have reached a point where other partners are interested in helping us in Rwanda…Thank you. 

We’d also like to share our newest 3-minute video with you:

http://youtu.be/VfVIxBen_9o

Please feel free to share our video through your social media and help us spread the good news of street children joining the digital age.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

An email from a street child in Rwanda
An email from a street child in Rwanda
Eric in IT Class
Eric in IT Class
IT Test
IT Test
Damascene in IT Class
Damascene in IT Class
IT Class at the MindLeaps Center
IT Class at the MindLeaps Center

Links:

 

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Organization Information

MindLeaps

Location: New York - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.mindleaps.org
Project Leader:
Rebecca Davis
Astoria, 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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