Instruments4Africa empowers young people with quality education and training in traditional music and dance. I4A trains a girls performance troupe. From the pool of students in our apprenticeship program, we chose individuals who show an exceptional capacity in music/dance/theatre and the arts in general. These children were chosen from applicant families, in impoverished and low income areas, who will support their children on the artist’s path.
The students are sponsored with scholarships to attend already existing schools where they will receive a quality education in French as well as English language training. English and French training is important to provide them with the ability to present their culture and point of view to the world. After their formal school day, they return to the community center for music and dance classes which are also connected to the mentoring program.
Our strategy was to start with a small number of girls (12) in the second or third grades, and then each year add a new group to the lowest level until we have a group that ranges all the way from 3rd grade to high school. As these students will be coming from mostly illiterate families, it is important to begin in the lower grades as there will be little to no academic support in the home. We currently have 12 girls in the program ranging from grade 3 to grade 7.
To begin our pilot program we have targeted the community of Sabalibougou, one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Bamako, Mali, where we have been working since 2003. The community center there already supports Troupe Don, a traditional dance and theatre company directed by award winning choreographer Karim Togola. This group of children will eventually become our global ambassadors, taking the important messages from their African communities out into the world, and at the same time bringing back knowledge and experience to their community. We hope to grow future leaders that will improve all aspects of their community.