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Building the School of Music, Dance and Education in Guinea, West Africa is the Foundation’s primary initiative. It is a long term vision that begins by providing clean water, health care and a community. Our land purchase was finalized in 2014, and our campus now consists of our Community Pavillion, Pharmacy building, and international student and resident teacher housing. Our pharmacy opened during our winter trip 2016 and is now in use. Finishing the resident teacher housing, implementing a high output well for water and small solar are on the list for 2017! As well as continued fundraising for clean water filters, medicine and solar lights!
The popularity of West African music and its influence on the western world has offered many African musicians and dancers an amazing opportunity to move and teach abroad. Unfortunately, this has created a situation where many of Guinea’s finest teachers leave Guinea permanently, taking with them the history, roots, and foundations of this important part of their culture. The school will provide education opportunities, sustainable employment and access to information and resources that would otherwise be unavailable. Not only will the school scholarship Guinean Youth but, will also host international students for intensive study and cross-cultural exchange.
The vision of this school is to create a place where master drummers and
dancers can support their families without having to leave Guinea, keeping
the knowledge of the traditional music and dance alive and thriving for generations to come. The school will provide the opportunity for work, the chance to study, and a space for local educators to teach. It is our hope the school will provide a consistent way for international students to travel to, experience, and study the rich culture of West Africa. Most importantly, the school can provide scholarships and education opportunities to Guinea youth ages 14-19. We hope to open the doors to the youth of Guinea for yearly enrollment in 2020. (high school in United States, College in French system) Until that time the Kissidugu School will host international students yearly to study the rich culture, music and dance. Currently Fara Tolno takes students to Guinea for the month of January each year for intensive studies in drumming, dance, balafone and kora. Our goal is to be able to offer this international study in conjunction with US Universities as a “for credit” program.
At this time the Community Pavillion is being used by various folks including Kissidugu’ schools Junior Company made up of village girls aged 9-15 and musicians from the area. Led by Fara’s younger brother Ethienne Tolno, the company is coming along beautifully! The space is also utilized to host community workshops on health care, sustainable living and smart environmental development practices as well as serve as a rehearsal space for local music/dance groups. Additionally classes and study are now being offered on a community level for the youth of all ages of the village. We have started small gardens and our health pharmacy is open!
The school will be a source for education, language studies, arts, music, and dance. It will be a place to raise cultural awareness, initiate dialogue, and focus on African heritage and history and exchange ideas cross-culturally. Currently any long-term schools or opportunities like this do not exist in Guinea.
The impact of the School in Guinea is huge. Eventually crops will be grown on site providing food and nourishment for the attendees as well as providing opportunities for surrounding villagers. In addition, the youth of Guinea have begun to lose the knowledge of their traditional music and dance. The school will serve as a living library of these traditions, giving the opportunity for Guinean Artists to pass down this ancestral knowledge. Not only will the School give Artists and Educators a place to teach, reside, and support their families, but will be a long term source of livelihood and valuable education for the youth and surrounding communities.
The School has four major focuses: Food & Agriculture, Technology, Language, and Traditional Dance, Music and History. The school will start small with five resident teachers and 20 sponsored students from Guinea each year. In addition there will be an outreach program that trains educators and teachers from Guinea, so that they can take the skills and information learned and share it with their villages and towns. In this way we create a ripple effect that can spread to other communities, reaching beyond our faculty and student body. The School will be sustained by the annual tuition received from international students and on-going agricultural endeavors.
PHASE ONE: COMMUNITY CENTER : COMPLETED 2016
In 2012 Founder Gabriel Fara Tolno began seeking the land for the Kissidugu School. Putting forth his own monies in 2013 to secure the beautiful location we now call home, the land purchase was finalized in 2014 with the help of community support. The finalizing came with the elders of the village blessing the land and our endeavors therein. And so in the village of Koukoude in Bel-Air county, in 2014 the construction of the first building commenced. The project was endorsed and embraced by the community. The initial phase of the Kissidugu vision is built on four pillars: WATER, FOOD, HEALTH CARE & CULTURE.
Over the course 0f 2015 funds were being raised and little at a time building was in progress. In the beginning of 2016, Kissidugu Foundation’s President Gabriel Fara Tolno and Vice President Michal Anna Carrillo along with volunteers/students; Bradley, Mary, Laine and Shelley spent 6 weeks in Guinea, West Africa, and were happy to report back that it was a successful journey! Kissidugu Foundation was able to distribute SIXTY Luminaid & Berkey solar lights and THIRTY Waves for Water filters to families, build four Berkey water systems for use at the Kissidugu School, and we brought multiple huge bags of natural medicine, supplies for dressing wounds and items for give away; New Balance shoes, organic seeds and much more! The Health and Tech buildings on property were completed, a tower was built for the water storage tank and the community center/dance space was finished while on site! Gardening, and fruit tree planting were completed along with a chicken coop built out of recycled materials. Infrastructure for the kitchen/rooms and sanitization/trash systems were also set into place.
In 2016 the Resident Teacher housing; five two bedroom units were built. They are currently being finished. And we now have running water when our tanks are full! The garden is coming along and the water filters are in full use daily on campus. Slated for 2017 is the implementation of a high output water well.
The Kissidugu Foundation is honored to be creating a campus that will provide needed basic resources, a community center, and eventually high level education to serve the Bel Air community and village of Koukoude in Guinea, West Africa.
We hope you will continue to follow our progress and get involved by donating time or funds as we continue the forward motion of the Kissidugu School vision.
If you would like to see our full proposal including timelines, executive summary and budgets, please email us at [email protected]
We are excited about our partnership with the CLEAN WATER FOUNDATION and will be using their filters for our next trip!
We are returning to Guinea in January 2018 and will be taking more medicine, water filters, solar lights and working diligently on the next goals; which include a kitchen/dining area, finishing our teacher/student housing area, a water well, and solar system. Please consider donating today, a little goes a long way!!! (all donations are tax-deductible)
Check out our GUINEA PROJECT PHOTO GALLERY and see how we are moving along…
OUR CLEAN WATER CAMPAIGN IS UNDERWAY AGAIN THIS YEAR!!!
THIRTY FILTERS TAKEN IN 2016.
THIRTY FIVE FILTERS TAKEN IN 2017
THIRTY FILTERS TAKEN IN 2018
How many will we take in 2019???
Please donate a water filter to a family this holiday season and give the gift of clean water! Each filter is $50 and will clean one million gallons of water! Water is life! Thank you!
When making a direct donation to Kissidugu Foundation using PayPal simply specify: water filters in note field.
WE ARE SO EXCITED ABOUT THE HIPPO -ROLLER!!
Ways You Can Help
Please know that a little goes a long way! Your five dollars WILL make a difference.
MAKE A DIRECT DONATION TODAY!! All monies go directly to Guinea and the beginning of building the Main School House; January 2019- Dec. 2019
You can also give in kind donations such as medicine/first aid, clothing, flashlights (solar/shakelights) and headlamps for the upcoming trip to Guinea.
AND your skills and knowledge are valuable, if you would like to volunteer for the project, join us in Guinea, or help the Foundation in anyway, please let us know.
Contact [email protected] for questions or more information about the school
That is what your generous support will help create, a safe place; a school where youth of Guinea are being fed and educated in a sustainable and supportive environment.
Donations are appreciated and can be sent to:
9101 N Ogden St
Thornton, CO 80229
or donate online:
How We Got Here: