I’ve always felt a deep connection to humanity. Even as I grew up in Zimbabwe, around people and families from different backgrounds with different stories, I often felt like there were multiple realities–one where people could achieve all of their dreams, and one where people could not.
I lived a very different reality from the children in my neighbourhood—we had plenty of space, green grass, and ground staff. While we had choices for our futures, my friends did not. They were never able to escape the cycle of poverty.
It all seemed very unfair. I knew I had done nothing to deserve the circumstances I was born into. I went to good schools, and I was encouraged by everyone to follow my dreams and talents. I learned that the presence of resources and opportunity would define the perception–and reality–of our outcomes.
As I grew up and had the opportunity to move to the UK, I dreamt of changing the world from a place of multiple realities to a world of just one–where the promise that we were all born equal and free was realised. Where we all had hope and choices, where all our dreams were curated and fulfilled. Fuelled by the gratitude I felt for the opportunities I was given, I made a promise to do everything I could to create this reality, to remove barriers and help so many of us explore our talents, achieve our dreams, and fulfil our life’s purpose.
After years of procrastinating and gathering knowledge, I decided to act on this dream. I started LeNoir Foundation to remove barriers to hope and achievement. To help rewrite history and support those who have been traditionally overlooked, create and implement better systems built to empower people everywhere.
At its core, LeNoir Foundation helps to create a world where all children learn in safe, healthy, engaging environments. We build and enhance libraries & E-Learning labs so that students, and especially girls, can thrive in happy, interactive spaces where dreams are born and nurtured.
Our volunteers and project coordinators are our strongest assets. Our staff in Uganda and India were all born and raised in the communities we serve. For LeNoir Fdn, this is both aligned with our values and highly effective. Who better can centre the needs of students, teachers, and communities, build relationships with country governments, and adapt quickly than those who are deeply connected to and immersed within the areas we support?
Since its founding in 2016:
LeNoir Fdn has impacted 5000 students by sponsoring children's education, building a school & library in India and Uganda with communities;
trained volunteers to help teachers provide engaging lessons, and inspired and supported teachers to increase commitment inside and outside the classroom;
donated hundreds of high quality, age-appropriate, and culturally aligned books;
published children's books to help raise much-needed funds
partnered with local NGOs, that bring credibility, expertise and reach.
Though we have had achievements this year, we have also navigated many challenges, mainly the impact of COVID-19. While the global pandemic remains in the backdrop for our countries and communities, LeNoir Fdn has not stopped supporting students, teachers, and families. We learned to move smarter. Our team’s deep knowledge and understanding of the communities we support enable us to adapt, evolve, and innovate during these uncertain times.
We have achieved a lot, but we have a long way to go.
We have a strong vision for our global community. In 2022, we will:
Convert from Community Interest Company (CIC) to a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO)
launch our new website and fundraising platform
incorporate technological advancements like iPads and e-readers.
increase our focus on gender parity and positive outcomes for girls;
incorporate learning from COVID-related pivots and continue to adapt to address the impacts of COVID;
partner with companies who will purchase or donate their IT equipment as part of corporate social responsibility initiatives.
build more robust, fully resourced libraries, and;
tell our deeply profound and impactful story.
Data supports that our model works and our team is very optimistic about a hopeful future. For example, students who study in schools and are sponsored by LeNoir Fdn consistently outperform their peers on learning assessments that assess reading skills. We also know that teachers supported by our volunteers are better classroom managers, have stronger relationships with their students, and are more motivated to be in the classroom.
We do this work as a labour of love and as a global family. I want to thank all my incredible global colleagues and partners on the front lines–your unwavering promise to children inspires me every day to stay the course, no matter the challenges.
Thank you to our trustees for supporting me in my leadership. Many of you have known me since the beginning and remain energised and engaged in LeNoir Foundation's trajectory and your promises to our communities–I am grateful to learn from you.
Finally, thank you to our donors, partners, brand ambassadors, followers, and advocates. I see you building a movement to transform the landscape of education equity and dream achievement for all people in the world.
Together, we will change the world and achieve the promise of equality and freedom for all so people everywhere can achieve their dreams.
With sincere gratitude,
James Jay Mawaka