The teachers at Centre Salisa who are learning the value of project-based learning through Giving Back to Africa’s process curriculum model call themselves the Noyau ('kernel' in French). This phrase evokes the image of a seed that, when planted, will yield fruit. This is what Giving Back to Africa is doing – planting – and this year, the Noyau teachers (5th – 9th grades) and their students are benefiting from the fruit of knowledge they have gained about nutrition. They have just completed 4 of the 5 lessons on nutrition and the Noyau are preparing to teach Lesson 5 soon, which is all about helping their students apply their new found knowledge on nutrition to make a difference in their community of Mpasa.
In preparation for teaching lesson 5, the Noyau took a field trip this Saturday with Dr. Jerry, Giving Back to Africa’s Program Director. They visited a large farm with gardens, a fishery, and animal husbandry all started by a man who has had polio since infancy. Rather than let this terrible disease affect him, this remarkable young man applied himself and has a thriving business. Dr. Jerry also brought the teachers to his own home where they were able to see how Angel, Dr. Jerry’s wife, transformed their small compound with very little means. These teachers must start small and right where they are, as Angel did.
With her own hands, Angel cleared a mess of weeds and rudiments of a poorly planted garden left by previous tenants. She prepared the soil for the planting of nutritional foods to foster healthy eating in her family (Dr. Jerry and Angel have five strong boys!). Thanks to Angel’s perseverance, despite having little to work with, a wide range of local crops are beginning to yield food the family is eating. Not only did Angel cultivate the garden with care but she also saved a local tree, called a maracuja tree, that has long been known to have medicinal qualities.
The Noyau took this trip to foster their awareness that with very little one can start with a vision and from there, with critical thinking and reflection, the vision can become a reality no matter where one starts. THIS is assets-based servant leadership, the foundation of all of Giving Back to Africa’s work with the children at Centre Salisa.
The teachers completed guided field notes before, during, and after the field trip, notes that helped them apply the content of the nutrition modules they had just taught to what they were seeing in the real world. The guided field notes also challenged them to find linkages between the three curricula they have taught over the last 3 years on clean water, waste management, and now nutrition. They reflected on how their teaching could offer the same opportunities around good nutrition that they had seen on the field trip to their own students and the community of Mpasa. “What did we DO, SEE, and HEAR today,” the field note questions asked, “that we can also put into our lessons with students and what action steps can we take now? How is this evidence of assets-based servant leadership?”
The Noyau will begin teaching Lesson 5 of the Nutrition Module next week. This lesson will yield even more fruit as the children will benefit from the applied knowledge their teachers gained as a result of this field trip. Angel’s garden will be a guiding vision for them!
Giving Back to Africa’s assets-based servant leadership program focuses on the teachers and students of 5th through 9th grade. Over the last three years, the Noyau, this cohort of teachers, have studied project-based learning, safe-classroom techniques, how to turn “right/wrong” questions into open-ended questions that foster curiosity and creativity, and how to work with their students in developing critical thinking and reflection skills.
Most amazing, however, is that the 1st – 4th grade teachers and students have been observing the dramatic change in their colleagues’ teaching styles and the degree to which they have begun to enjoy their work. They have watched the 5th – 9th graders present their annual Fete de Presentation and complete their various community service actions in the community.
This year, the Noyau decided they wanted to share all that they are learning with the other teachers at the school. This kind of professional collegiality is rare. All the teachers at Centre Salisa came together last Saturday to listen to the Noyau share their learning and to listen to teachers not directly involved in the program who had many questions.
The non-Noyau teachers discussed the current education system they see in Congolese schools. In general, they said “students are learning without motivation because of many factors, but [especially because] of the lack of care and attention from teachers, the large number of students in each classroom, and the fact that teachers are not highly motivated." They said this stood in stark contrast to what they were observing in the Noyau teachers and their students.
The Noyau teachers, they observed, “are applying new techniques to help students in the learning process…[the content] is rich [and] people can apply [this knowledge] at home.”
Mr. Pombo, the 6th grade teacher, described his experience this way: “What is capital is the fact [that] students [are] put at [the] center observing, listening and expressing freely. We are using [techniques] to stimulate students participation in the learning process and by some small experiences, they [have] discovered things they didn’t know first, even we, teachers didn’t know at first.”
The Noyau and non-Noyau ended their meeting by agreeing that: the Noyau would take some time to explain nutrition concepts to the other teachers who will also be encouraged to observe the Noyau in their classrooms.
In this way, Giving Back to Africa is impacting the entire school; teachers and students are learning to think and act differently as a result.
Story, direct quotes, and pictures taken from Internal Report, Dr. Jerry Kindomba, Feb 2, 2014
Dr. Jerry Kindomba, Project Manager in DR Congo, is ready to visit the capital of Hoosier nation! Dr. Jerry arrives in the United States on August 20th and will stay until September 15th. Dr. Jerry will be busy making appearances, giving talks, and engaging with our supporters across the country, as well as sightseeing! Register for the gala on September 5th to hear Jerry speak about the past year at Centre Salisa.
Dr. Jerry is a Congolese medical doctor who is very familiar with community development. He worked with a USAID project to improve Congolese healthcare before working with us. Dr. Jerry spearheads curriculum development for our shining students at Centre Salisa. Jerry and his wife have five boys.
Dr. Jerry's almost one month trip is Bloomington-based, but he will also be meeting with supporters in Washington D.C., Indianapolis, and Michigan. He is meeting with numerous organizations, including the George Malaika Foundation, the Global Fund for Children, the Bloomington-based Project School, and Sunrise Rotary. He will also be on the Noon Edition Radio Program, a WFIU program, on September 6th.
Dr. Jerry's appearances and talks help to continue to raise awareness for the educational dilemmas in DR Congo, our work in Mpasa, and what next steps are needed. His efforts allow both new and old friends to support student leadership in DR Congo.
We are excited to share the latest updates from our community service actions, or CSAs. CSAs are student-led projects that help students to share with the community what they've learned in school. CSAs also enable students to lead change to solve real community issues, such as improper waste disposal. In CSA #1, students went out into busy areas and picked up waste. Community members wondered what the students were doing and engaged with them in conversations about waste management. Read more about the CSAs and the philosophy behind them.
Students started CSA #2, home visits, on the 2oth. Eighteen students and their teachers went out and visited twenty-six households in order to share news about how to properly handle waste. The students' work allows for safer community practices, shared information, increased self-confidence for the student leaders, and a chance to show how important an asset education is for everyone.
The day began with preparation and briefing in the classroom. Students practiced what they wanted to say, and the teachers led them in a simulation of a home visit.
Next, the groups went to the homes. Adults were amazed to see the children speaking with such self-confidence. Respect and hospitality abounded during the visits. Students reported that people were interested, kind, encouraging, and asked questions. Many had not know much information about waste management before the students' visit. Student Tshibola said the positive reaction was, "because we approached people with respect, greeting them, and explaining clearly the reason of the visit."
Additionally, Beya Beya explained the reason of the visit so well that one father listened diligently and then decided to separate biodegradable waste from non-biodegradable waste in his garden.
After the visits, students went back to school to reflect on their experiences. They are anxious to be able to continue the home visits! They will finish the home visits, then revisit families on August 3rd to follow up and invite them to the mini fete, CSA #3. At the mini fete, which will be on August 10th, the students will perform more skits, dances, and poems about waste management with hopes to reach even more community members. The students are also working on creating a map with clean water and waste management details that they can share with friends.
The mini fete will present lessons similar to those that were presented during April's fete. It will further emphasize the effects of an education and of proper waste treatment. The students continue to work tirelessly to make these CSAs a success for all!
Recently we told you about how our students amazed themselves with their abilities during the May 18th Fete de Presentation. Parents and teachers came away impressed by the the courage and eloquence these young leaders show in educating their communities on important community development issues, such as waste management. Rodin Mabingi, Executive Director of PAID Centre Salisa (the school where we work) spoke for the school and the community after the fete:
“I am taking this moment to thank GBA for having always thought of PAID (Centre Salisa) in terms of support of all its activities. The organization [of the fete] was impeccable. The guests (notably some authorities from N’sele, UNICEF, and World Vision), the parents and other people in the community were all very animated with joy to see these students well formed, presenting with courage and good speech the poems, the small scenes, songs and dances that conveyed the biggest message relating to the good management of waste to prevent illnesses.
Immediately after the ceremony, since the work had been well done, the mayor’s representative and the distinguished guests congratulated us, encouraged us, and asked if we could develop the projects for the popularization and implementation of this message. The parents were also content with the development of their children.
Allow me to say that thanks to your support, PAID (Centre Salisa) is changing the bad behavior in the community more and more. The students themselves become the true leaders of change by their initiative and ideas that impress the people. Therefore, we ask you to receive the thanks addressed to you. You may all know that your presence has marked a large impact in DR Congo. We hope this continues! We envision a huge awareness in the neighborhood soon.”
We share Rodin’s vision of a changed Congo. Our amazing students are using their education to shape the community.We are committed to continuing this remarkable work. We also thank you for you continued support, which makes all of this possible.
Hear more stories like this at our September 5th gala, Congo: Continue the Story.
For Saturday, May 18 the school grounds of Centre Salisa school became a stage. Surrounded by their families, teachers, peers and special guests, theatre in the round-style, students performed lessons to educate about the managing waste.
Students drew creative energy for their performances by talking with waste management professionals, viewing bodily waste samples under a medical clinic microscope and from neighborhood walks where they evaluated the impact of waste firsthand. These inspirations prompted the students to clean their classrooms on a daily basis, arriving at school before even their teachers to clean.
Songs, skits and poems teach in fun, accessible ways the need to keep the environment clean to prevent diseases and erosion by collecting waste and disposing of it properly, reusing or composting. Students entreated attendees, and parents in particular, to work together and support each other to minimize the dangers of waste by good management.
Special guests watched with pleasure and support as the students demonstrated their learning. Representatives from UNICEF, World Vision, and Rotary joined the Assistant Mayor of Mpasa II, Nsele City, the Police chief of the National Intelligence Agency, President of the National Association of DRC Parents and Water and Sanitation Coordinator and Manager of Institut Supérieur des Techniques Médicales Kasangulu.
|"What the children said here only means that we parents have not made an effort to manage a healthy environment, which causes high rates of mortality and morbidity. We must not limit ourselves here but must bring these lessons to the community."
--Mr Dueme, Water and Sanitation Coordinator and Manager of Institut Supérieur des Techniques Médicales, Kasangulu
Students are looking ahead to turning their performances them into action. All the learning about waste leads to student driven Community Service Actions, community service projects targeting public education of the disposal, re-use, and long term health aspects of waste management practices.
February 11 found the sandy, dusty courtyard of Centre Salisa school bustling with people, all come to see new student leaders share about the value of clean water. While a live band played students and parents, school staff and official guests settled in to their chairs for live performances by Centre Salisa students.
The fete de presentation showcased the 5th, 6th and 7th grade classes new leadership skills and knowledge gained from the Giving Back to Africa Clean Water Curriculum. Class by class and as a group, students sang and presented poems and sketches of their own creation. The dramatizations are the student's first forays into community service activities to address problems of clean water in the Mpasa community.
By presenting their knowledge students practice leadership skills for solving community problems. Even preparing for the fete students used their new skills to identify problems and solutions to common issues around water. Grounding the leadership in practical activities like demonstrating good hand washing behavior and actively protecting water sources from contamination both practices leadership for change and enacts change. Reinforcing the presentation, students, parents and onlookers received locally made bars of soap.
After reaching over 300 people at the fete the 5th, 6th and 7th grade classes move into the Mpasa community with community service projects of their own design. The students continue practicing leadership while seeking to solve community problems.
The fete was attended Dr. Jean Fidèle Ilunga, representing the Health Ministry. Dr. Ilunga congratulated and thanked Centre Salisa and Giving Back to Africa for our engagement and efforts to increase the level of education at Centre Salisa. He has asserted his commitment to advocating on our behalf within the Health Ministry.
The Clean Water Curriculum is the first module in Giving Back to Africa's youth empowerment leadership program for long-term community change in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Thanks to Bralima Foundation for providing drinks, Danielle Anderson, Giving Back to Africa Country Director, and Dr. Jerry Kindomba, Giving Back to Africa Project Manager for shepherding the clean water curriculum to this major milestone.
We are celebrating the return of a working well at the PAID orphanage! On May 25th we received news that a well digging crew fixed the well. The uncapped well pipe gushed muddy water into the PAID compound. People flocked to collect water even before the well head was in place.
Over a period of several months Jackson Babese, PAID President and Omba, Rivers of the World representative in DRC, worked together, assessing the condition of the well and resolving problems. Rivers of the World originally installed the well, three years ago, and provided money for this repair! The perseverance has paid off.
A maintenance agreement between PAID and the Mpasa II community will ensure that money is available to maintain and repair the well if it breaks. The agreement sets a minimal price for a liter of water. The receipts will be placed in an account for future access.
Giving Back to Africa facilitated the conversations between Rivers of the World (ROW) and PAID as part of our bridging role. Recognizing that we may have greater
access to organizations that can assist PAID, we worked with Jimmy Shafe, Rivers of the World Congo-Kasai chapter. This project shows an alternative to the traditional method of providing development assistance, where support comes from an international organization only. In this case, PAID, Rivers of the World and Giving Back to Africa combined their capacities to bring badly needed water to a needy community.
See more photos
There will soon be water at PAID! Rivers of the World will pay to fix the well at PAID. Acquiring water in the Mpasa II community is a daily chore. How can you possibly articulate the sounds of the early morning (5am) when the older orphans (about 6 of them, boys and girls) wake up before dawn to help Mama Eliza and Mama Bebe carry the 5 to 20 liter bottles and buckets to the well 2-3 km away?
In 2008, Giving Back to Africa connected PAID with Rivers of the World (ROW) to dig a well in the PAID compound. For a while the well provided ready water for PAID and the community. A small fee charged for each bottle went into a fund to cover inevitable well maintenance and repair. The well was a blessing... until it broke.
And now Jerry, our Project Manager tells us that Jackson and Omba (ROW representative in DRC) have made connections and that the money has come through from ROW and the well will be fixed! The perseverance has paid off. GBA was able to faciliate the conversations between ROW and PAID! That is part of our bridging role.
A maintenance agreement will ensure the well will continue operating. Stay tuned for pictures. We can't wait until we see that flowing water again! What a blessing that will be!