The inspiring story of Ayize Sabater and M.O.M.I.E.’S TLC, Inc is one that needs to be heard, and I am honored to be one of the platforms to do so!
Li’el: What is the story behind you starting M.O.M.I.E.’s TLC? And tell us a little about your background?
Ayize Sabater: SO the story behind me starting M.O.M.I.E.’s. I grew up in a crime-ridden single parent working household in Brooklyn, New York where violence was unfortunately all around me. Even before I had graduated high school my best friend had been gunned down by people on the street. Because I have been blessed to be raised up and supported by people around me in my neighborhood who sowed into me I have decided to give back because somebody has given to me. The African proverb says to each one teach one. I am looking to give back to repay the debt to God and my community.
A little about my background I was blessed to be guided down to a small historically black college in Atlanta. I became a history major and had an interest in education, and had a desire to marry my love for education and history. I looked to transform inner-city children’s education. So some of my colleagues and I got together and started a school for black children called Free Form Academy. We established a business plan that said we would open 1000 schools by 2000. So when I moved to DC I decided to start a nonprofit instead because I thought it was a better avenue. So I started a summer camp first and the parents were so impressed they asked me to start an after-school program.
Li’el: How do you “nurture the genius in children? If you can,tell us about the process of discovery these children go on?
Sabater: We have a set of nurturing practices – first we pick the children up from different schools, public private charter. Some of the older ones walk. The first thing that happens when they come we establish a family atmosphere – brother and sister is what they call each other, Baba and Mama is what they call the moms and dads. They do yoga meditation to reflect on the day, do a little guided meditation to still themselves. We also have a practice of rotating the leadership so we ask the children to lead as well. The children themselves will lead the others in the guided meditation. we do conflict resolution practices. We do that family centred peace meditation, guided meditation, leadership building, then we engage them in conflict resolution activities, fifth, we do these interactive piece where we feature great leaders who in the face of darkness uphold their light. This is called the “Great Person Piece,” as a way to help the children to learn about how to stand up for what is right and stand up for justice. To inspire them to be change-makers. then we try to have the children work on their homework. We have been blessed to have a good relationship with Howard, American, and others to have the children to work with small groups and have the children to have mentors. Then self-directed time, games created to observe the children to see where their interests lie. Through that we are able to observe and nurture the children’s gifts. One child was interested in the visual arts was accepted to Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
Li’el: What was the experience like in your own words participating in the cultural exchange session with Manav Sadhana with the youth from their organization?
Sabater: It was also a phenomenal experience. Because we have been doing what we do and doing it so well, we have been approached by other organizations to be youth ambassadors for the dc area. Our children have also been selected to interact with children from Ghana and Cameroon. To hear about a youth group coming out of India where they are doing meditation and they are based at the Ghandi center in Gucharat was amazing. They too are established on the principles that Ghandi himself said. To see children across the sea be able to come together was magical.
Li’el: How did it feel to win the National Arts and Humanities Youth Programs Award from the First Lady Michelle Obama?
Sabater: It was really exciting. On some level it is a validation of the work that we realize is really top-notch and cutting edge, to have it recognized by the white house.
Li’el: How have you benefited from starting this ministry? How have you seen the kids benefit?
Sabater: I have benefitted on a number of different levels. I marvel at how I can get paid to do what I love to do. I feel like I am really making a difference a lot of people see what is happening in their neighborhoods and I feel like I am being part of the community. It is intrinsically rewarding because I feel like I am doing what God has called me to do. I feel like it is helping me to become more effective as a professional educational. I want people to see they can go into community building professions. Far too many of us are not doing that.
Li’el: How do you balance it all?
Sabater: I still have much to learn about balancing. I’m still putting in a lot of hours, I have gotten some level of balance in that we have been blessed to have bot high-powered and high quality people working with me and they have helped us to achieve what we have achieved.
Li’el: What can the average person, who doesn’t have the money to start a great program like yours, but desires to help, do? What would you suggest?
Sabater: I would say there are a lot of great programs already in existence, help them do what they are striving to do and do it more effectively. There are many already successful non-profits already, so help them out.
- Teaching Children to Meditate: Just Say, “Ohm” (kidsloveacupuncture.com)