[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5djdHKPVho&w=420&h=315]
To celebrate the efforts and work of the girls’ dance troupe and their director, Lassina Kone, we threw a Saturday-before-school starts block party. The I4A dance troupe performed to a lively and happy crowd, including most of their siblings and parents. We are very proud of them. School begins on Monday, but they have been hitting the books this summer and tutoring sessions at the American School started in September. We are hopeful the younger girls will be reading by the end of the year. Thank you for your support!  Please click below to donate safely and quickly through paypal.  We are fundraising for tutoring and tuition for 2 new students.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I35ZEGsubdE&w=420&h=345]
One of our favorite bands, Toubab Krewe, is donating between fifty cents and one dollar on every ticket sold to Instruments 4 Africa, 501c-3. These donations will specifically go to build a music school in the Bamako, Mali area. The school will be headed by their teacher, Lamine Soumano.

Toubab Krewe, the vibrant Asheville, NC-based instrumental powerhouse, creates a sonic Pangaea that swirls together rock, African traditions, jam sensibilities, international folk strains and more. Toubab Krewe’s music carries echoes of African greats like Ali Farka Toure, Orchestra Baobab and Salif Keita, picked up during the group’s many visits to the Mother Continent to study and live in Guinea, Ivory Coast and Mali. We can’t wait to see you in Mali again!

Big thanks to the members of Toubab Krewe for supporting the arts in Mali and the education of young Malian people!


Congratulations to Lassina Kone (Lassi), our Instruments 4 Africa Dance Director. He recently graduated from the Ecole des Sables, International Training Centre for Traditional and Contemporary African Dances, in Toubab-Dialaw, Senegal. Because of his dedication to the art of traditional dance and the I4A dance troupe, Lassi was awarded a scholarship and with a hand from I4A and other donations, he was able to journey to Senegal to complete the the 3 month professional dance teacher certification training. Like Instruments 4 Africa, L’ecole des Sables in an International Laboratory. It is a place of cultural and artistic exchanges, of meetings between the continent of Africa and the rest of the world.


School’s out for summer and this is our time to connect with friends & family and fundraise in the USA. This year we made practical and beautiful tote bags from 100% cotton, African batik prints. With a donation, you receive a great bag and feel good about supporting the education and mentoring of the 12 girls in our program. Robin and Cathy hosted an awesome group of women in San Francisco and raised $500. Thank you, Robin and Cathy!

Sharrie Williams is fundraising through her website, www.maybellinebook.com, where you can pick up the #1 beach read, The Maybelline Story, along with a great beach bag. Than you, Sharrie!

I will be at Bikram Yoga Dallas for a fundraiser on Saturday, July 2. Thank you, Karen & David! Come by for a class and pick up your summer tote. The profits go to pay for school tuition, supplies and traditional arts training for the I4A girls. If you can’t make it contact me at info@instruments4africa.org to get your limited edition tote!


The I4A girls are receiving hatha yoga and meditation training.

“Greatness is not what you have, it is what you give.” I don’t think this means gifts, or money or even time. I think it means presence…your full attention to the person you are with or the activity you are doing and even with yourself.

How many times have we gone through the motions of life on ‘automatic pilot’? This is the opposite of greatness. Our greatness is giving of ourselves… illuminating the moment with our full attention shifts reality. I’m not talking about some trip into outer limits. I mean next time you are spending time with someone, let go of expectations and be in the moment, notice your breath and heartbeat. Allow the moment to unfold without having ‘to do or change’ anything and see what happens.

I have been taking a mindfulness training for the last 2 months, so these messages are part of my daily diet. What I realized this morning, and why I am reaching out today, is that there is an abundant source of energy that is available to all of us if we so choose. We don’t have to rush to get our share, or hide it once we find it, or hold on tight in fear of losing it. There is enough, in fact plenty, for everyone. This is the tricky part…once you experience it, to keep it, you have to let it go. It is a constant flow of energy….flowing, moving, evolving in every moment.

We have the endurance to say ‘yes’ and mean it. We show up fully and listen. We do not feel the need to be protective of our time and energy coming from a place of scarcity. We sense the limitless quality of the moment and as we widen our perspective, new ideas, solutions and understanding enters our minds. And our hearts open too. We are loving and compassionate to all, not just those to whom we are attached.

I am grateful to the I4A girls and the opportunity they provide for me to share yoga and meditation. I think I was underestimating them by not offering them the meditation, mindfulness training until now. Maybe I was underestimating myself. This organization is about realizing our full potential, the children, the volunteers, me, all of us. Meditation can assist us in getting there.

is the fuel for an inspired life. Witnessing another human being overcome an obstacle and grow beyond what they imagined, shifts our perception of what is possible. We all transform in the process. Win-win.

As I am doing our taxes and going over the year’s receipts, I am reminded of the people who reached out and in that moment of generosity, changed the lives of 12 Malian girls.

In Mali, women are still considered inferior to men. This viewpoint is not only cultural, but supported by the state. Under family law, women are required to be obedient to their husbands. According to Brahim Koné, president of the Malian Association of Human Rights, the position and treatment of women is one of the biggest human rights abuses in Mali today.

The legal age for women to marry is 15 and many girls are being promised to marriage at the age of 13. Four of the girls in the Instruments 4 Africa program will turn 14 this year. Being part of a group focused on education, empowers them to believe in their abilities and make wise choices. They are among the 33% of Malian women who can read or write.

Through education, mentoring and traditional arts training, the I4A girls are realizing their potential.

2010 was a year to:
-get to go to school everyday
-own a new school uniform
-learn to read
-train in traditional dance, music and theater
-be able to go to the doctor and get medication
-sleep under a mosquito net
-make friends from other cultures
-know my rights as a woman
-build confidence
-reach out to others
-believe change is possible
-realize we are all human and equal
-believe in miracles

Thank you to all the generous friends and supporters, like Toubab Krewe, who make the I4A program possible. I want to shout out to the American International School of Bamako & the director, David Henry. Their support this last year has been phenomenal. Between the school-to-school tutoring program, headed by Robin Pascucci, and the walk-a-thon donations spearheaded by Calley Connelly & Abdel Yatarra it has been a successful year. The girls could not have made the progress they did without your support. Thank you!

Nana

This is Nana. She is 10 years old and she lives at the Togola Community Center in Bamako, Mali. Like many children her age, she needs to build confidence in her abilities as she moves into the upper elementary grades. Like many other children in Mali, she needs your love and support to have access to an education and emergency medical care.

Thanks to your generous donations, Nana is proud to be a 4th grader in the Jigiseme School in Sabalybougou. She says Monday is her favorite day of the week because she gets to go to school. She loves reading and dreams of being a doctor so she can “help sick people”.

A $20 monthly donation will pay for school tuition, traditional arts training and medical care for Nana. The Instruments 4 Africa program provides the tuition for a modern education in reading, writing, math & science, as well as traditional arts training in music, dance and theater. Nana’s education gives her hope for the future and her arts training draws strength from the past. If you would like to help Nana stay in school and be able to receive emergency medical care please click here to donate via facebook or contact me at info@instruments4africa.org.

I4A girls getting ready for performance at the American International School.

The African Dance Party at the American International School was a success and so fun, thanks to the Community Service Student Volunteers at the American International School and their sponsor, Robin Pascucci. And big thanks to AISB for stressing the importance of community service and hosting related events.

We started the evening with a performance by the Instruments 4 Africa Dance Troupe. They were so happy to wear their new costumes (thank you, Suzan) and share the traditional songs & dances they have been learning. Next came a dance lesson for the elementary kids from the American School, their parents and several teachers. The lessons were taught by the I4A girls troupe Malian Dance Coach, Lassy Kone. Thank you, Lassy! Great job by Lassy and the I4A girls…engaging the group and creating community through music and dance. We closed the evening with a community dance circle and gave everyone a chance to share their moves in the center of the circle. It was definitely one of the best times so far this year. So much laughter and joy! We all left with huge smiles. I am reminded of the power of music as a means of self-expression, relating to others and finding fulfillment.

In the upcoming weeks, I will be introducing each of the girls in the Instruments 4 Africa program, giving you a window into their life. Stay tuned.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQhNNNT4QCY&hl=en&fs=1]

In support of cultural preservation and artistic development, Suzan and her friends from Holland have donated instruments and new costumes for the girls dance troupe. Thank you, Tanti Suzan! The girls are learning a new performance piece to be debuted in the Spring. They can’t wait to show you how all their hard work and your generosity have paid off!

Happy New Year!  Thank you for your support in 2010 and we look forward to growth in 2011.  Abundant blessings to you and your family from the Instruments 4 Africa family!

The generosity of friends and relatives provided supplemental tutoring sessions during the winter break.  The girls met for reading, language arts, science and math for 3 hours almost every day of their vacation.  These sessions allowed the four girls in the 7th and 8th grade to catch up to their class.  The girls in primary school, 3-5 grade, still need the extra tutoring and we are working closely with the Director of their school to make sure they are on level soon.