GBA's Program Committee Shows the Importance of Working Together

Over the past few years, the Program Committee has been working in a consistent and focused manner with Dr. Jerry and the teachers in the Congo. Through weekly communication and a collaborative vision to help students and a community to succeed, a process has been created and continuously refined.The present challenge for the Program Committee is creating a way to assess students’ leadership skills both before and after a module. By developing this process, the teachers will better understand and explain how much a module has helped their students through tracking changes. This has not been a simple process due to the detail-oriented and time-consuming nature of the work. As Board Member Maria Brown explains, “The Program Committee is also being very careful to not just tell the teachers what to do, rather to work collaboratively and determine what would work best for both the teachers and the students. It is crucial that the teachers play a central role in this process in order to create a tool that is beneficial in their environment." So, the Program Committee will go through each leadership skill with Dr. Jerry in great detail and provide him with potential examples. Dr. Jerry will then take these leadership skills to the teachers where they focus on fine tuning the skills into the final curriculum modules. Dr. Jerry told us; “I'm proud of the way we are progressing with this process, refining it in the best way." This process, though long and painstaking at times, (and further complicated by the challenges with weak and often unreliable internet service), completely embodies everything Giving Back to Africa stands for. Everything we do is done well, collaboratively and intentionally. By taking the time, teachers are empowered through their involvement in the learning process and the Program Committee can conduct credible research on the success of the curriculum. The ultimate goal is to create a successful and detailed curriculum that can be replicated. Every detail is carefully recorded and analyzed to help with this goal, making the process just as important as the outcome. This is the second time a measurement tool has been developed and both the Program Committee and the teachers are hopeful with the progress. Ann Marie said "It's great, though, that they are really so much more engaged in the actual design of the instrument because now they understand it so much better than in 2012.” Thank you for your continuous support as we refine this process and stay tuned for more updates on our progress!

A Time to Celebrate: Launching the New Sustainability Model

We are thrilled to announce that Giving Back to Africa is building on its success from its first three years of curriculum by launching a whole new curriculum model for 2014-2017!

Students will add to the knowledge of their clean water, waste management, and nutrition curriculums by completing a brand new three-year sustainability model. The model, which contains five individual modules, will follow the same general steps as the first model; students will identify needs in their community, they will learn about those needs through targeted lessons in their existing classes, and they will then apply their knowledge by serving their communities in various projects.

Module 1, slated to begin in late 2014 and run through 2015, is all about visioning in regards to agriculture. Students will learn about farming in their community and incorporate ideas of composting and nutrition into their thoughts on local agriculture. Module 2, for 2015, aims to help the children develop cooperative learning and problem solving skills. They will learn how to identify their community assets in order to improve community life. Module 3, planned four 2015-2016, will then assist the students in using those community assets to leverage resources from outside of the community. Students will utilize a range of skills to do this, including planning, proposing, budgeting, and project management. Their ultimate goal will be to plan for the creation of a Children’s Learning Garden.

Student Beya Beya and friend

In 2016 and 2017, the garden will turn from paper plans into a reality. The students will use Module 4 to work with adults in the community in order to hone in on the plan to construct the garden. Then, with Module 5, the students will actually begin to craft the garden, using the various lessons they’ve learned--- how to handle waste and manage water, how to plant crops sustainably, etc.--- since 2011.

The sustainability model, like the one before, will encourage students to view themselves as leaders in the community and as stewards of their natural environment. The service learning process emphasizes pre and post-module follow-up and reflection, the prominence of assets over needs, and the cascading effect of learning, where each new lesson builds upon the previous one, culminating in the finished Children’s Learning Garden. We hope that the students and teachers alike will realize their integral role in creating positive change in their communities, both individually and as a group.

In addition to expanding the modules, we are also looking to expand our program and partner with other schools in the area; teachers from other schools have been observing at College des Savior, and our students serve as ambassadors to inform the community about service-learning.

For example, five students presented skits and poems at Global Wash Hands Day at the Lukunga School on October 13th. The students were meticulous in practicing their presentations and worked with the teachers to improve them. People at the Global Wash Hands Day events were impressed by the student performances, and a local journalist told Dr. Jerry, “Your kids did well. I want to learn about what you are doing to have (that) kind of kids, and I need (a) partnership with you.”

Our teachers were extremely proud of the courage and dedication of the student presenters. Mr. Pombo and Mr. Emmanuel called the five students leaders. Their presentations promoted local solutions to hand washing problems, such as using ash or building your own hand washing technique, while participants from the other schools only drew on outside solutions. The students reflected on their current assets—like access to recycled materials—and found a solution that started with them, right in their own community.

Artist, students, and Ann Marie Thomson painting the five GBA leadership skills

These are the kinds of lessons students will use in the sustainability model. The teachers are participating in training in order to best facilitate these learning discoveries. Teachers attend a variety of training activities, including sessions with GBA Program Manager Dr. Jerry Kindomba. In one recent exercise, the teachers took a walk around their community and observed sustainable and unsustainable living practices, such as covered waste bins versus waste left out on the ground. The teachers remarked on appreciation shown by the community from the students’ efforts to clean up; they hope that they can get the entire community involved in the use of sustainable practices, not just the students.

This is an exciting time, as we all continue to grow and learn together. We hope that you will continue to stay engaged with the process of the sustainability model by following our social media channels and donating your time, talents, or resources to the program. Be sure to check back here soon for more details about the model!

Thank you for your continued support!

Update: Dare Me For Charity Event Cancelled, But GBA Volunteers Showed Amazing Support

We regret to inform you that the Indianapolis Dare Me for Charity event was cancelled. The Dare Me for Charity crew had to cancel the event because they were unable to cover the required 100% of their travel costs for the event. The travel costs were to be covered through the jumper registrations, and there were not enough jumpers registered to accumulate sufficient funds. However, we are pleased to announce that GBA was tied for second place with the most chances for jumps, with 27 jumps in all. We are extremely proud of the volunteers who worked so hard on this event. Thank you!

It is extremely unfortunate that this event had to be cancelled, but we thank you all for your support and understanding.

Congo: Continue the Story in Song

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Thursday September 4, 2014 - Thursday September 4, 2014

1333 Fenbrook Lane

View MapMap and Directions | Register


**Payment information: For those paying with credit/debit cards, please note that the system will automatically process your payment once your information is entered in the payment box. There is no "continue" or "confirm" button. We apologize for any inconveniences.**

Note: You must pay for your tickets at the time of registration in order to secure a seat/table at the event. Thank you for using the online registration system.

Save the date! Our annual gala will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 4th, 2014, at the Clubhouse at The Fields in Bloomington, IN.

The gala will include:

~Dinner from FARMbloomington, featuring African flavors

~Entertainment, a silent auction, and Congolese fashions and products

~A talk with Jerry Kindomba, Program Manager in DRC, who will give an update from the program

~A new documentary from Katy Nielsen, exploring the stories of community and growth from students and teachers in the program

Ticket Prices: Individual- $60, Student- $30, Table of 8- $450

(each ticket includes one free drink from the cash bar)

All proceeds benefit Giving Back to Africa's youth empowerment and service leadership programs in DRC at the Centre Salisa school. The impact of an education ripples through entire communities!

For alternate methods for reservations, questions, or to volunteer,  you can call 812-340-6649 or e-mail events@givingbacktoafrica.org.

We look forward to seeing you at the gala!



Community Service Action: Measuring for Malnutrition

On May 1st and 9th 2014, students at Centre Salisa School, in Mpasa II, participated in a Community Service Action (CSA). During these two days, thirty of the students demonstrated their leadership skills and their personal sense of duty to execute a project that will have lasting effects on their community. The students conducted a scientific survey of the state of nutrition in Mpasa II. In this community activity, students and teachers went into Mpasa II to screen for malnutrition in children aged 6 to 59 months. Their means of testing was to measure upper arm circumference.

The aim of the students and their teachers was to take measurements that would be used to gauge the state of nutrition in their community, while interacting with caretakers and educating members of the community about malnutrition. This was as much an exercise in growing leadership skills as it was a scientific measurement.

Students practice for their community service action

Before embarking into the neighborhoods, nutritionist Mr. Lievin conducted the initial three workshops, instructing and guiding the students in how to make the measurements, how to randomize their samples, and how to determine the significance of their findings. According to actionagainsthunger.org, malnutrition leads to “illness and death, reduced educational achievements, productivity and economic capacity, and is one of the principle mechanisms behind intergenerational immobility out of poverty.”

Like the preceding learning modules, the students, their parents, and their teachers chose the topic of nutrition. The research design consists of observation, open-ended and close-ended questions, and structured interviews. In all, 72 households were visited during the CSA, the teams communicated with 73 responsible adults, and they measured the arms of 104 children.

Students measure the arm of a child as an indicator of malnutrition.


The next step for the students and teachers is to analyze their data, evaluate their findings, and develop action items based on their findings. They will use their knowledge of the nutrition cycle learned in both the classroom and the field to determine what topic will be next for the on-going learning modules of the students and community at large.



Giving Up to Give Shows the Value of Even the Smallest Sacrifice

The online project Giving Up to Give aims to remind us of the threads that tie all people together. Though we can not understand fully the atrocities and sadness that have plagued the nation of DR Congo, we can connect with the amazing heart of its people, people with stories just like you and me. One Kentucky family of five started a movement that has turned into not just donations, but into hundreds of human connections. Giving Up to Give operates on this premise-- give up everyday items in order to make a difference. Every little bit adds up. They suggest giving up a morning coffee, dinner (swap it for rice and beans), or a movie ticket on a weekly or monthly basis (or daily!). You can give on your own, with a group, or in honor of something. The idea is to donate the saved funds to GBA. The power of this kind of giving is that you can see how saving a little goes a long way-- whether you give $2 or $200, that money goes right to empowering the students and teachers at Centre Salisa.

Here is the online link to donate saved funds https://npo.justgive.org/nonprofits/donate.jsp?ein=74-3106179

Or send a check to: GBA, PO Box 2328, Bloomington, IN 47402

Giving Up to Give started off the year strong-- the community raised $500 in January alone! Their goal is to have a group or individual fill up each day of 2014 with a pledge to give. You can view their progress on the calendar on their website. Donations from Giving Up to Give go to implementing vital curriculum topics at Centre Salisa such as waste management, clean water, and nutrition, which encourage student leaders to make positive changes in their communities through community service actions.

In a world where it's easy to get consumed in the chaos of our own lives, Giving Up to Give has given us a reason to remember the paths of others (and how our paths can cross with theirs--even thousands of miles away from each other). The project continues to amaze us each day, and we are immensely grateful for the love and support of the community.

Become a part of Giving Up to Give and keep track of the movement at http://www.givinguptogive.info/.



Update from April 2014 Giving Up to Give campaign


We are excited to bring you the latest news from Giving Up to Give!  The campaign raised $178.65 for the month of June. Adding this to the January, February, March, April, and May total of $2,618.33, Giving Up to Give has raised an incredible $2,796.98 so far this year.

This group of people and their passion and talent for helping the students never ceases to amaze us. Please continue to follow their progress at http://www.givinguptogive.info/.


Support Needed for Vital Kinshasa Trip This Spring

As we start off the new year, GBA needs to go on a critical fundraising and programming trip. The goals of this trip include gaining potential support from a new foundation and the possible creation of a new partnership in DR Congo.

There will be a journalist and filmmaker traveling with GBA co-founder Ann Marie Thomson. They will be creating a professional video for GBA (at almost no cost to GBA). Additionally,  will be meeting with the Director of GBA Congo, Dr. Jerry Kindomba, regarding improving administration and programming at Centre Salisa School and Orphanage.
Three of the four plane tickets to Kinshasa are paid for, but we need to raise an additional $2100* for the cost of visas, in-country travel, and room and board. We must raise these funds by no later than February 3, 2014.** We are grateful for any and all donations. Please donate through JustGive at the address below:
 *These funds are earmarked for the Kinshasa trip.

**As of 1/29, $3000 has been raised, and we need only $2100 more!

Thank you for your continued support!

Eat & Give at FARM Bloomington Tuesday, December 3rd

08.27.13 BABS Flyer (Eat & Give) Join us for a delicious three-course meal at FARM Bloomington on Tuesday, December 3rd. The meal price is $19.95, and 50% of proceeds will go directly to Giving Back to Africa. You must call ahead to reserve a seat (812-323-0002) and specify that you are dining for the benefit of Giving Back to Africa. You will also need to specify which entree you would like at that time. The only seating time is 6:30 PM, so don't miss your chance to enjoy this wonderful dinner!