youth empowerment

The Noyau Give Back to their Colleagues

Giving Back to Africa’s assets-based servant leadership program focuses on the teachers and students of 5th through 9th grade. lsdkjfhOver 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.

All the teachers at Centre Salisa (even those not directly involved in GBA programs) came together last Saturday to listen to the Noyau.

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.”

d;jfThe 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

Community Service Action #2 Welcomes Students into Community Homes

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. Centre Salisa students preparing for the fete


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!




Morgan Scherer Welcomed Home After Trip of a Lifetime

After a summer of soul-searching, starry nights on the trail, and 500 miles worth of footprints made with DRC in mind, Morgan Scherer is home (and back to school!) in Bloomington! We want to thank and congratulate Morgan for his amazing accomplishment in serving our students and modeling leadership for us all! Here is Morgan's final blog post-

"I woke up early July 25th to climb Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Not only was this my last day on the trail, but it was also the reaching of my goal to walk 500 miles. As I flew up the short, but steep five miles to the top of the mountain, there was a surreal feeling that set in. I apprehended the lessons my hike taught me, several of which I am sure I do not even know about. I am excited to implement these valuable lessons in my life.

After the first step, the hardest step, with a million more to go, I realized Niko and I were on an adventure to find something. We didn’t quite know what that something was, but we were going to get it. I thought all along that this treasure we were on a search for rested at the end of the trail, like the rainbow’s pot of gold, but, surprisingly, when I got to the top of Mount Katahdin, nothing happened. I was not hit in the face with some spiritual awakening. I felt no change, only drooled over the view from the peak of the mountain.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I sat on top of mountain vistas as well as next to valley streams to break from the tedious walking, but something always edged me on. I felt a strong urge to see what was on the other side of the mountain. We take each step to see more beauty that is out there in this massive and mysterious world. We cannot help but to take our lives on adventures.

As I am now walking from class to class at Bloomington High School North instead of from peak to peak in the Appalachian Mountains, I’m comfortable; almost too comfortable. My legs are restless as they twitch up and down while I sit at my desk with an anxiousness to go somewhere. Walking is not the fastest mode of transportation, but I saw this summer that it can get me where I want to go.

Harold Whitman said "Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." I love that I was able to convince people to give me money for walking. Your small check may feel worthless compared to the $10,000 of pledges, but every cent is creating a chance for the kids at Centre Salisa to come alive. Every kid should have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams, whether that be walking in the mountains or becoming a doctor. I believe that what we are giving to the kids, they will give back to Africa."


You are invited to welcome Morgan (and Niko!) home and celebrate their hike Sunday, August 18th, from 7-9 p.m. The party will be held at the Scherer's home-- 4811 N. Maple Grove Rd, Bloomington, IN, 47404. Desserts will be served.

Please RSVP to Morgan at 812-325-7229 or at

For pledges made to Giving Back to Africa on Morgan's behalf, please send the donation to Morgan's home address, listed above, or simply bring them to the party with you! Please make checks payable to Giving Back to Africa.

You can also hear Morgan speak at the gala on September 5th!


Giving Back to Africa Student Association: Connecting Students to Students

Dani Walker's no stranger to DR Congo-- she's been interested in the country since 2005, a junior in high school, when she learnt of the devastating effects of the civil war there. After watching about the conflict on an episode of Oprah, the messages she heard that day on the show stuck on in her mind. She began reading about Congo, the conflict, and Africa overall. Dani later entered IU for International Studies and the African Studies program."It was the only thing that really gripped me at the time when I was supposed to be deciding what to do with my life and what to go to college for, " she explains.

After beginning her career at IU, Dani was referred to Ann Marie, co-founder of GBA, who grew up in Congo.  There were few people Dani knew of who knew about the conflict there, let alone had visited the country. The two quickly formed a friendship, and Ann Marie helped to nurture Dani's passion while also continuing to grow her vision of Giving Back to Africa.  "I have always been a big-picture thinker, so I loved how GBA strategically invested in people to grow up leaders for the country," says Dani.

Ann Marie really hit home the idea of investing in people rather than projects. She saw potential in Dani and in the Congolese people to be the producers of their own positive change. "Most organizations bypass people and instead invest in projects, which at the best will make a temporary difference.  What is special about GBA is that they have a long-term vision for Congo and they work alongside the Congolese people.  This is truly a unique and special vision that I wanted to be a part of and make a way for others to also be a part of!"

Later on, Jim and Ann Marie connected Dani with another student, Micah Widen. Both wanted to be a part of the GBA vision. Dani writes, "We began envisioning a student organization with three objectives: 1) to raise money to support GBA’s programs 2) to raise awareness about the issues facing DR Congo, and 3) to build mutual relationships between the Congolese and Bloomington communities."  They wanted people to see Africa outside of the media spotlight and to connect individuals in the US with individuals in Congo and show how each affects the other. They also desired to show the capacity of the Congolese people to take control of their own future, to show Americans that GBA's work would be a partnership, not a one-sided aid machine. Soon, the Giving Back to Africa Student Association (GBASA) was born to help fulfill these wishes.

As GBA grew, so did GBASA's events and activities. GBASA partnered with the PAID students and students at Binford Elementary for an art project. Students were given the same materials and the same assignment-- draw a picture and write something about yourself. The results were displayed at the Village Deli. This helped in aiding with GBASA's vision to connect individuals and to show that, despite cultural and environmental differences, everyone holds on to similar human characteristics and values. Another highlight was Kambale Musavali's, a Congolese activist, speech at IU. GBASA has also screened films, participated in the Lotus Blossoms Bazaar, and helped to plan and host benefits, like the Krista Detor Holiday Concert and this year's first annual spring benefit gala, Teach Me, Congo.

Both GBA and GBASA continue to plan new activities today, and both continue to grow! Why team up with GBASA? Dani pretty much sums it up--

"I grew as a leader, I interacted with incredible people from around the world, and I gained a set of skills I would have otherwise missed out on.  This is a huge advantage to being involved with a smaller organization – that you can be involved on many levels.  Take advantage of this opportunity and use it expand your own growth and learning!"


For more information on the GBASA, you can email and join the GBASA Facebook group. We look forward to seeing what kinds of creative and inspiring actions the students will lead this year!

Community Recognizes Students as Leaders of Change

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:

Rodin's word

“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.

Students Spring into Action for Community Service Action #1

On June 15th, our students stepped away from exams and desk work and applied their knowledge directly to solving a community problem. Over 30 students from several grades completed the first of three community service actions with their teachers. The kids were briefed by teachers, identified key talking points, and then went out into busy areas of the neighborhood in order to pick up trash and engage in conversations with curious community members. Students listen to teachers and prepare informational signs before leaving to pick up waste

The students demonstrated mastery of the waste management material and confidence in talking with adults around town. A chance meeting with a local sanitation workers led to learning more about how waste is handled. Many observers wanted to know more or know what they could do to change how they handled waste. They also asked about Centre Salisa and how they could learn there as well.

A mother was influenced by the example of the students' actions in the community and wanted to learn more

Reactions from students and community members alike were positive. A young man said, "Congo ezali ko change (Congo is changing)." The students hope that their work can help community members to know about the dangers of waste an the importance of school. Student Marcelline said, "There was a lot of waste. Many have seen our work and said they will no longer throw."

Student Kipulu had a similar reaction from observers. "A Mother asked me why you pick up the waste, I told her that this is to protect our area if not there will be diseases. She promised to tell her friends too." The kids' work is contributing to not only a healthier Mpasa, but a more informed one, too. Moreover, students reported that they wish to continue picking up waste on a weekly basis.

In addition to collecting waste, students will also prepare for CSA #2 in the coming weeks. CSA #2 consists of home visits that will allow students and teachers to continue to spread the message of waste management and to reach children outside of the school system.

We can't wait to see what happens next in this series of CSAs. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks!

Community Service Actions Take Child Leaders from Classroom to the Streets

The next step in the waste management curriculum sends Centre Salisa students into the streets. Our highest priority is enabling students to lead change in their communities. When a student becomes a child leader, there are increased benefits to the community and increased self-esteem and learning reinforcement for the children. There is also an awareness built around Giving Back to Africa’s presence in the community and the importance of schooling and topics such as clean water and waste management.

The Noyau, the team of teachers developing the curriculum with Giving Back to Africa, meet regularly to plan and evaluate programming

Community service actions, or CSAs, encourage child leadership by giving kids space to apply classroom learning to the real world. The students identified three CSAs for the summer months that will seek to solve problems related to waste in their neighborhood.

First, students revisited the market area to gather waste. By publicly picking up litter, the children raised questions and conversation with community members.  The oddity of the clean up gave kids a chance to talk directly about waste.

Community members were eager to learn more about Centre Salisa and about waste management. The kids' actions inspired community members to make changes in their own lives about how they handle waste. Many students said that they wished to return to pick up waste often. Student Kipulu said, "Several people congratulated us and asked us to return again to pick up the waste and advise people."

Students prepared to answer questions and start up conversation after reflecting on the most important points they learned during the waste management curriculum. Students and the Noyau, our teacher team, met to determine these important talking points together. Talking points gave students more confidence when speaking with community members and allowed them to pull out points of waste management lessons that were most meaningful to them. Look out for a blog post later this week with more details about CSA #1.

Next up: home visits. After this first CSA in the market, students and teachers will reflect on the outcomes and prepare for step two, the home visits. They will decide what they find most important to talk about and then visit homes in the community to share the information they’ve learned about waste. This will also allow for staff to be able to reach children in the community who are pre-school aged or out of school. The home visits will be able to provide concrete proof of the value of an education, and again, it will strengthen the self-confidence of the students in being able to take a stake in their community and in talking with adults and community leaders.

Students Make Community Walks

In addition, the home visits will provide students with an opportunity to invite parents and children outside of the school system to a mini fete de presentation in late July/early August. The mini fete is CSA #3 and will further emphasize the effects of an education and of proper waste treatment.  Students will be able to take their learning leadership to new heights!

Supporting child leaders is our goal. The students work tirelessly and are truly shining, in classroom and out. Through the CSAs, the students hope to continue making positive impacts in own their lives and the lives of others. They also hope to open up conversation, in all parts of the globe, about education, child leaders, DR Congo, and more.

The students at Centre Salisa prove what a difference communication can make as they step into the neighborhood and into their roles as community leaders.


Student Leaders Amaze Themselves at Spring Fete de Presentation

Community Learning is Key for Giving Back to Africa's Programs On May 18th, a fete de presentation (literally translated as "Feast of Presentation"!) gave students a chance to celebrate and show off the waste management skills learned in the second youth leadership education module.  Students prepared dances, poems, songs, and skits to teach community members about waste management. Their goal was to educate community members about the risks of handling waste improperly.

After the fete, the teachers and students alike reflected on their performances and overall feelings about the fete. The consensus was that it was a fun and informative program for all.

Before the fete, some students had reported being nervous or worried about speaking in public, but their fears were met with strength at the performance. After the fete,  students felt that their hard work had reached a vast audience, and teachers and students alike reported an astounding sense of pride in their achievement.

Evaluating and refining the program means that more students, like Beni, will be able to be a part of stronger educational systems.

Students went on to identify the next steps in carrying out waste management projects in the community. These next projects aim to continue learning, reinforce waste management lessons, further connect students and the community, and increase awareness about both waste and the students' work at Centre Salisa. We call these projects community service actions, or CSAs.

Students and teachers will lead the CSAs over the course of the next few months. The kids are very eager to continue working and educating in their neighborhoods. Beya-Beya, a 7th gradeer, said, “As we show people how to manage the waste, we must now go show them how to prepare food properly. We have to go in the fields and tell people to pick up the waste.”

There's a buzz around the originality of the students' efforts at Centre Salisa. The hands-on curriculum there is seen as one-of-a-kind.  Student Ndjali remarked that, “If all the schools in the DRC act like this, the situation will change positively. It was very good and very touching.”

With the brilliant leadership from these students, we are sure to see continued positive change in communities in DR Congo. We will bring you more news on the students' CSAs as the summer progresses. Thank you for your continued partnership in making accomplishments like this possible!

Theatre of Waste, Performing a Clean Future

Student perform a skit teaching collection and sorting of waste 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.

Mr Pierre and M. Fifi, Rotary Club-Gombe, applaud student performances on waste

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.

Using Skits and Celebration, Students Put Centre Salisa “On the Map”

Students map painters in front of the water map of Mpasa Last year students created a large scale map of the water sources in their community and it became the focal point of their school grounds. Now, students are preparing to educate their family, friends, and government officials about a new area of focus – waste management.

Using skits, presentations, and story-telling, students will “teach back” about waste management through the Fete de Presentation slated for Saturday, April 18. In advance of the event, one parent shared the following, “I’m very happy to see the school clean and tidy and the wonderful demonstrations done by students.” Families and local officials will undoubtedly be impressed by the knowledge and conviction students portray through their interactive presentations. Students will continue to put their hard work and knowledge “on the map” in the Kinshasa area. Laughter, bands, and refreshments will also mark the day, but there is more to the story than this one-day celebration.

Centre Salisa students preparing for the feteFor more than four months, teachers at PAID have participated in Saturday trainings on project-based learning, shifting their methods from memorization-based learning to open-ended questioning. Students have also shifted their approach to learning, using the problems and opportunities of their local environment to learn the science, math, and language principles needed to understand waste management in DR Congo.

This weekend marks the culmination of much dedicated effort from both students and staff. Community members will learn about the challenges associated with waste management and have an opportunity to join the discussion about opportunities for improvement. Looking ahead, students will take these ideas and turn them into action. Stay tuned for more updates on the Community Service Actions likely targeting the disposal, re-use, and long term health aspects of waste management practices.