LEAF International Friends

 Who are LEAF International Friends? 

LEAF International is committed to seeing youth immersed in their local cultural traditions, and believe that connection is the key to transformation. LEAF International Friends were born out of the realization that while we cannot work everywhere, we can partner with community organizations that are inspired by LEAF International’s work to launch their own cultural arts programs. We want to see cultural arts programs in every community, and want to share what we know to help make that a reality! 

LEAF International Friends fully support and manage their programs independently of LEAF International.

We work closely with organizations that want to launch their own LEAF International-inspired program, providing them with the LEAF International Prototype, and walk hand-in-hand with them as they set up their own program. We provide our expertise in knowing what it takes to set up a program, and what to expect in its long-term management. 

Is your organization interested in having a cultural preservation and cultural arts program? Please contact international@theLEAF.org. We are all stronger together!

We have worked with organizations in India and Kenya to set up the LEAF International Friends Program. Keep reading to find out more!

LEAF International | India 

Founded in 2009 in Partnership with Home of Hope Orphanage & Wilmington Yoga Center

“This program is transforming the lives of these girls and helping them heal, sing and dream of a better future.”

Sarah Hipp

LEAF International Ambassador

Program Overview

LEAF International partnered with the foudner of the Wilmington Yoga Center, Kristen Cooper, to support the creation of this music program. Kristen is a member of the LEAF community, and visits India often. She approached the Home of Hope Orphanage to begin this project. In this partnership, LEAF International served as the inspiration and catalyst to begin two music programs in Kerala in southern India. This orphanage is home to orphaned and abused girls, many of whom were child prostitutes or beggars blinded by the Mafia to accrue more sympathy and money. The female program includes instruction in traditional dancing and rehearsing for the marching band. The co-ed program provides keyboard lessons to 22 students three times a week and guitar lessons to 13 students twice a week. The lessons pass on traditions to the younger generations while fostering creativity

The Impact

Through the project, students gain:

  • Musical skills
  • Traditional dancing skills
  • Increased self esteem
  • Keyboard and guitar instruction
  • A safe way to express their creativity
  • Respect for their culture and traditions
Meet a LEAF International Student!

“Reena was six years old when she was brought to Home of Hope. She and her mother, a mental patient, came to Kerala from Bhopal and had a very difficult time sLIINDIA-kidsurviving. Reena fell into the hands of the beggar Mafia, who blinded her left eye and severely damaged her right eye by poking a darning needle into it. This cruel act was done to make her a “better” beggar. The sisters took her to the eye doctor, but they weren’t able to do much due to the damage done to her nerves in the left eye. Even with what has happened in her past, and her limited vision, Reena has grown into a happy child at Home of Hope. She is in the 5th grade, speaks Hindi fluently, and has become friendly with the sisters. She is a delight to all at the orphanage.”   -from Home of Hope

 
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Project Highlights

The students won first place in All English Group Song at the State Competition!

 


Featured Partners

Wilmington Yoga Center: a true community “center” of yoga, open to people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities that wish to deepen their understanding of yoga and healthy lifestyle practices.

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Home of Hope Orphanage: The orphanage provides a safe haven for hope and trust by addressing children’s physical, educational, medical and moral needs. There they are free to play and laugh. They stay until they are adopted, married or ready to live independently.

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SUPPORT US

From music instruments to child sponsorships, our people-centered programs depend on generous givers like you to grow and thrive. Donate today! 100% of your gift goes directly to support music and arts education programs in the country of your choosing.

The Culture of Kerala

Kerala is a state in the south-west region of India on the Malabar Coast. Production of pepper and natural rubber are important in this region. In the agricultural sector, coconut, tea, coffee, cashew and spices are important. Kerala is a state in flux where caste and gender still influence social mobility and women still do not have full equality. Kerala’s geographical isolation from the rest of the country has resulted in development of a distinctive lifestyle, art, architecture, language, literature and social institutions.

LEAF International | Kenya (Likoni)

Likoni, Kenya | Founded in 2014 | Partnership with TWAAYF 

We work with a wide range of musicians, producers, emcees, DJs, and trainers to have a cross-cultural taste, learn more from others, and gain different skills and knowledge. With your support, we are going MILES!”

Martin Gitonga

TWAAYF Director

Program Overview

The TWAAYF organization (Total War Against AIDS Youth Foundation) is comprised of the Children’s Center, home to 20 orphaned or abandoned children, and the Madaraka Community School, which educates 170 less privileged children within Likoni. Holykraft Entertainment works with both groups of students.

LEAF International is happy to provide support to the HolyKraft Entertainment Music Company; a recording and performing music program that focuses on youth empowerment. Through music, dance, modeling, videography and photography, the organization encourages children to develop their talents and creative skills, and then use those skills to become responsible adults. This project was born out of a collaboration with D-Street Studios, founded by Ben Gradison (a LEAF Schools & Streets Teaching Artist). Ben visited the TWAAYF center to help set up a One Mic recording studio there. Holykraft is inspired to continue on Ben’s belief that music and art can change the world, reduce poverty, and transform communities.

The music and arts program at the TWAAYF Center has developed through efforts of dedicated volunteers and the director of TWAAYF, Martin Gitonga.

In 2014, LEAF International was thrilled to officially partner with TWAAYF to support the work being done and carry on the honor of Ben Gradison’s memory. Holykraft Entertainment works with other young people across Kenya (in addition to those in the TWAAYF center) to give them a voice and unlock the creative potential of youth.

The Impact

Through the project, students gain:

  • Musical skills
  • Traditional dancing skills
  • Increased self esteem
  • A safe way to express their creativity
  • Respect for their culture and traditions
  • One-Mic Studio where they can experiment with hip-hop and new music forms
Meet the LEAF International Collaborator!

HolyKraft Entertainment was founded by Martin Gitonga, the founder and director of TWAAYF, The Total War Against Aids Youth Foundation. He grew up in the streets of Kenya, and now has dedicated his life to support other children and help them avoid the streets. Martin has a very entrepreneurial spirit, and he and his brother, Dennis, use arts, sports, music, offer volunteer and internship activities, and create other income-generating projects to sustain their programs. The program is run by a group of producers, vocalists, DJs, dancers, and performing artists.

LEAF International | Kenya (Mlolongo)

Mlolongo, Kenya | Founded in 2014 | Partnership with Cradle to Career Kenya 

“The students’ self-esteem will rise when they perform for others, and their own sense of self-worth will increase as they develop pride in their traditional music. The community will benefit from the same factors when they watch the performances. Hope will inspire all.”

Cradle to Career Kenya

LEAF International Partner

Program Overview

LEAF International is honored to act as the catalyst in beginning a traditional music program near Nairobi in partnership with Cradle to Career! The students will learn traditional Kenyan drumming, dance and song. Currently, the program is working with a group of teens from the slum who don’t have the grades to continue on into high school. The music class will empower them with life skills and musical skills to become more successful in all areas of life!

The long-term vision and dream is that a solid group of students will form a highly-skilled dance troupe, and they will give performances throughout the community. Income from their performances will help these youth become more independent and self-sustaining.

The Impact

Through the project, students gain:

  • Musical skills
  • Traditional dancing skills
  • Increased self esteem
  • A safe way to express their creativity
  • Respect for their culture and traditions

SUPPORT US

From music instruments to child sponsorships, our people-centered programs depend on generous givers like you to grow and thrive. Donate today! 100% of your gift goes directly to support music and arts education programs in the country of your choosing.

 
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Project Highlights

2015 

Ben Gradison’s Mom, Heather Gradison, visits One Mic Studio in honor of Ben’s birthday. TWAAYF is in a process of transition.

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2014 

Music program scheduled to begin at Mt. Olive Academy with Cradle to Career Kenya

LEAF International and TWAAYF begin a partnership to continue on the work begun by Ben Gradison

2013 

Martin of TWAAYF has the inspring idea to collaborate with LEAF International

2012

LEAF Schools & Streets teaching artist, Ben Gradison, works with TWAAYF in Kenya to establish a One-Mic recording studio

 


Featured Partners

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TWAAYF (Total War Against Aids Youth Foundation) is a youth led community development organization comprised of artistes working to empower children and youth in Likoni, Kenya. TWAAYF foundation fosters personal development and self-sufficiency among young people, while promoting economic development in the civil society within Likoni community.

HolyKraft Entertainment Music Company: a community-oriented musical empowerment program. The project was came from the inspiration of D-Street Studios USA, “supporting real talents!!” 

Featured Partners

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Cradle to Career:Kenya is a non-profit organization whose mission is to transform the lives of Kenyan orphans and vulnerable children, from preschool through college to career, by providing for their immediate needs, and offering access to the best education possible. In turn, these educated women will “pay it forward” to the next generation in their community.

 


 
A little more about Kenya

Likoni: Kenya has many diver popular music forms, in addition to multiple types of folk music based on the variety over 40 regional languages. Likoni is in the southwestern part of Kenya, along the Swahili coast near to the large port city, Mombasa. Swahili and English are the two main lanugauges in Kenya.

Mlolongo: Mlolongo is a town near Athi River.  It is on the main highway that cuts Kenya in two.  Mlolongo is a truck stop notorious for its high rate of prostitution.  Fr. Henry wanted the vulnerable young students of the Athi River area and its surroundings, including Mlolongo, to have a safe haven (especially for girls so they would’t be “married off” at a young age), and so he founded Mt. Olive in 2010. The school provides local and Nairobi families with a place where their children can learn in a safe environment outside the city. Traditional Kenyan values are cherished.