For most of the people in Guinea, “summer camp” means traveling from town to town or from country to country. But, the MindLeaps–Hope of Guinea Summer Camp is an innovation in Guinea: The STEAM CAMP (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) took place for three weeks for 50 youth in Conakry. The children took dance classes with MindLeaps’ teachers, and English, math, and science classes provided by Peace Corps’ volunteers. This novelty enabled the children to develop a healthy state of mind, and I have personally found that dance has provoked radically positive changes in their behavior.
Another goal of the camp was to help change the stigma around street children. MindLeaps selected 20 out-of-school and street youth to participate, while Hope of Guinea recruited 30 in-school children. When the camp had just begun, we had serious problems between the two groups of children; they did not get along well; they barely spoke to each other, and there were always small problems.
After three weeks together passed, I saw the same children during the closing ceremony had completely changed. They had become a true team, true friends. This is something that I myself witnessed. I realize now how much dance can truly change a person’s mentality. It has a way of making everyone equal – no matter their circumstances.
MindLeaps supported the street children throughout the whole duration of the camp. MindLeaps was at the heart of the social action during the death of the father of one of our girls during this camp. A day of mourning was observed by the children at MindLeaps. All of the staff mobilized to present their condolences to the grieving family by presenting a token amount of money in the name of MindLeaps to help with the burial. This support to the family was a gesture highly appreciated by the parents.
A parent declared: a child’s happiness is your happiness too.
I am certain that is true.
Ansoumane Conde is the Country Director of MindLeaps Guinea.