Friday, July 25, 2014

The Albert + Albert Company

Hello everyone!

On June 6th we travelled to Belleville to visit Albert College. Njacko was performing at their Junior School as part of their Francofête day to thank them for doing some fundraising for Ecole St. Ablert Le Grand. It was a beautiful day! Mme.Evelyne Proulx, the French teacher for the Junior School, planned a beautiful day full of art, music, stories, food and games all around the theme of Africa.

All of the children and teachers at the school were wearing beautiful handmade kaftans that were made by volunteers. The gymnasium was full of bright and glorious colours! We learned that the kaftans were purchased by each and every child in the school to raise money for St. Albert Le Grand. Can you imagine? They called their business "The Albert + Albert Company" - a small school-based business in Belleville helping a small school-based business in Bazou - how perfect! We were each given a kaftan too - even baby Nkoni! Have a look at Albert College's website for a glimpse of the show.

After Njacko's performances, they invited us up to the stage to receive the donation. They presented us with a cheque for their contribution. We were speechless!! Such generosity!!

In addition to this incredible donation of $3,150 from Albert College, the staff at Annunciation School took up a collection and donated $175 from their own pockets. All together, we raised almost $5,000 in our final year of fundraising for St. Albert Le Grand!

We are in touch with the school, and will be dispatching funds to them in two instalments. The school is considering how to best use the funds, and once they have their decision, we will sent the first sum. Unfortunately, we learned late in June that some of the school roofs had been damaged by inclement weather, but fortunately the school has begun repairs using money they've earned with the business. Here is a glimpse of the damaged roofs:

We will post again once we hear back from the school. All the best!
Njacko and Val

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Thank you! May 3rd was a big success

What a day it was on May 3rd! We had a wonderful turnout in the afternoon even though there was beautiful weather beckoning folks to play outdoors. In the evening, we had a lovely audience who braved the rain and thoroughly enjoyed the show.

When we add up the proceeds from the afternoon event, the evening concert, plus a few individual donations received already, we have collected just over $1,700!! Thank you all for your support! This is truly a grassroots partnership that we have with St. Albert Le Grand, and it works because of the generosity of all of the contributors, and the confidence that you have in the project. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

We will report back at the beginning of July again once we receive a few other donations that have been pledged.

We'd like to thank the Gladstone Hotel for their support of our fundraiser for the past five years. And of course we would like to thank all of the artists who generously gave their talents on the 3rd. Here is where you can find them:

Soli and Rob:

Marni's Move-N-Music:

Njacko Backo:



Here are a few photos from the afternoon event (sorry that we don't have any from the evening show yet, we will soon!)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Announcing An Evening for Bazou 5 - May 3, 2014!

It's hard to believe it, but this is the fifth and final year of our partnership with École St. Albert Le Grand in Bazou, Cameroon. As such, this will be our fifth and final fundraiser, and we would love to have you all come out for this grand finale! There are two events on Saturday May 3Afternoon Family Fun and An Evening For Bazou 5.

The Gladstone Hotel is graciously hosting our fundraiser again this year. They have supported each and every fundraiser and we really appreciate it. Thank you Gladstone!

The funds raised at this year's events will be used to expand the small business that was started last year as a result of our successful Indiegogo Campaign. The business - renting out equipment for celebrations in the village - was launched in December 2013 and is already off to a great start. The Indiegogo Campaign was about 50% funded, so the remaining items to be purchased for the business are tents and generators. If enough funds are raised, the school may also choose to purchase duplicate equipment and and/or set some funds aside in their bank account for business expenses and school operation/maintenance. The school has already done some improvements using money raised from their business!

Tickets can be purchased in advance from African Drums and Art Crafts located at 618 Dundas St. W. in Kensington Market.

An Evening For Bazou 5 

When: May 3, doors at 8pm, show at 8:30pm
Where: The Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen St. W.
Tickets: $20 or pay what you can; cash bar

The evening will start promptly at 8:30pm with a presentation of all that has been accomplished over the past four years at École St. Albert Le Grand. You will be amazed by the transformation that has taken just four years! Njacko Backo will then open the evening with kalimba music, followed by some global beats by DRUMHAND that will certainly get you out of your seat. Afrafranto will close out the evening with some sweet palm wine and highlife music that will keep you dancing the rest of the evening. We are pleased to welcome back our talented MC's Luther Hansraj (English) and Jacques Yams (français) who will be your hosts for the evening. This is an all-ages show.

Afrafranto - Afrafranto ('Butterfly' in the Akan language of Ghana) performs authentic acoustic palm wine and highlife music. Afrafranto is a dynamic group that has entertained audiences over the past few years with their dance-driven music and electric performances.

Afrafranto features four members of the JUNO award winning African Guitar Summit - Theo Yaw Boakye on lead vocals and shakers, Pa Joe on guitar and vocals, Kofi Ackah on percussion and vocals, and Ebenezer Agyekum on bass guitar - along with Sam Donkor on balafon, and Marshall Nketiah on congas.

DRUMHAND - Hands, sticks and mallets pound out old and new rhythms on weathered skins: evoking ancient forms of ‘messaging’ via global beats for dancing bodies and curious ears! The Toronto ensemble was founded by percussionists David Chan, Larry Graves and Steve Mancuso in 2008 in an effort to combine the circuitous rhythms of West Africa, Cuba, India and Brazil with the jazz-imbued horn work in the spirit of New Orleans parade bands and the uplifting spirit of American Roots Music.

Njacko Backo - Born in rural Cameroon and raised in the hills in a small village called Bazou, Njacko has spent his life writing and performing music in Africa, Europe and North America. He began playing percussion and making instruments at the tender age three. Nicknamed the King of Kalimba, Njacko will open the evening with some sweet melodies on kalimba so you can shake off the stresses of your week and get ready for an evening of dancing and merry making!

Afternoon Family Fun

When: May 3, 3-5pm
Where: The Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen St. W. 
Tickets: $10 per child, or pay what you can

Bring the whole family down for our popular child-friendly shindig. We are pleased to welcome back Soli and Rob as well as Marni Levitt who have all supported our fundraisers in the past. The Gladstone's café will be open right next to the Ballroom so that you can grab a drink or a snack while your little ones enjoy the show. The afternoon will be full of songs, dancing and stories!

Soli and Rob - Soli & Rob share a passion for performing to young audiences. The creative collaboration, now spanning over 12 years, came about as the duo, also a couple, combined Rob’s experience in songwriting with Soli’s background in theatre and puppetry. The result is a rare live show that mixes music, humour and puppetry in a way that is truly mesmerizing to children and their families.

"Toronto's #1 Children's Entertainers" - City Parent Magazine

Marni's Move-N-Music - Songwriter and holistic artist-educator, Marni Levitt nurtures a lifelong passion for expression and transformation through performance and teaching.  Move-N-Music provides interactive performances and workshops for all ages and abilities through yoga and holistic music (singing, dancing, drumming).

Njacko Backo - Njacko Backo is a percussionist, singer, storyteller, choreographer, songwriter/composer who has been performing for children and adults since his childhood in Cameroon. He has a lifetime of practice in capturing the subtlety of dance and storytelling with his music – an essential part of the African performing arts. 

Below you will find the posters (French and English) - please share with your friends and family!

Friday, March 21, 2014

The business is launched!!

Hello everyone! We have a lot of amazing news to share about École St. Albert Le Grand. Their small business has been launched, and the school has already used some of the proceeds to do their own improvements! This is a very newsy post, so here's a summary of what you're going to find below:

- A report out from our Indiegogo campaign, and a big thank you to our amazing funders!
- The business is launched! Have a look at what equipment was purchased
- A recent donation from St. Monica School
- May 3rd is the final fundraiser!!

Indiegogo Report Out

Our Indiegogo Campaign was run from May 4 to June 30, 2013 and successfully raised $3,425 which was about 50% of our goal. We were elated with the results! Although it would have been nice to have raised the full $6,915, we believe that falling short of our original goal was a blessing in disguise. It gave the school the opportunity to start their business smaller than originally planned to get their feet wet. More on that below.

Please click here to see the Indiegogo campaign - including the video pitch that the wonderful Kelly O'Dette created for us. 

We would like to whole heartedly thank everyone who supported the campaign both financially and by helping us spread the word. We would especially like to thank the following fine folks who contributed to the campaign:

Superstar of Bazou

- John Easson

Friends Of St. Albert Le Grand

- Madame Proulx
- Eileen Woloshyn
- Steve Woloshyn

Education Champions

- Anne Benson
- Jane Benson
- Mary Benson
- Sam Benson
- Debanjan & Aparna
- Glen St. School
- Jean Golden
- Will Hossack
- Jeremy Kraemer
- Keith Stansfield
- Whitney Woloshyn

Small Business Boosters

- Anne Lederman
- Julie Leung
- Carolina McDonald
- Erin Paul
- William Pipher
- Jeff Plotnikoff
- Quinlan, Gavin & Darren McManus

The Small Business is Launched!

In December 2013, our project coordinator Peguy purchased equipment in Douala to take to Bazou. (Why did it take so long for us to send the funds to Cameroon? Fair question. Njacko and Val had a baby in August 2013 and took a bit of a break to focus on family for a bit.) The school prioritized which equipment would be most beneficial to start with. They decided to put the tents and generator on hold for now, and purchased the sound system/mixing board, cordless microphone and stand, speakers and stands, and 100 chairs. Here they are!


When the equipment arrived, it was at the end of the school term (which is why you can see the children holding up their report cards in the above photo). The community gathered to celebrate, and the students performed. You'll notice that most of the students are wearing new blue school uniforms - the morale at the school is so strong, the school decided it was time for a change. Among the community, École St. Albert Le Grand is often now called École St. Albert La Belle!


Early this year, the school provided their sound equipment for a government engagement - it is by far the nicest equipment available in Bazou right now! The school has already put funds that they have earned with the business to good use. They have purchased drums for their marching band and installed ceilings in classrooms to help keep the rooms cooler in the hot sun.

Thank you St. Monica School!

This past February, Njacko had the pleasure of going to St. Monica School through the teaching he does with Mariposa In The Schools. When he was at the St. Monica, Njacko spoke with the children about our project with St. Albert Le Grand. The students were so motivated that they decided to have their own fundraiser for St. Albert!

They raised $675 by having their social justice group design and make Valentine's Day and Olympic themed buttons and magnets that they sold to the students at St. Monica.  They also helped to raise awareness about the purpose of their fundraiser through announcements and posters posted around the school.  

Way to go St. Monica School! Thank you so much for your support!!

Final Fundraiser - Saturday May 3

The Gladstone Hotel is graciously hosting our annual fundraiser once again on Saturday May 3. As we have done for the past three years, we will hold two fundraisers on May 3rd - an afternoon show for children/families, and an evening all ages concert.

This will be our fifth and final fundraiser for École St. Albert Le Grand, and marks the end of the 5 year partnership with this school. The funds raised will be given to the school to help boost their small business and to do any more minor repairs that they need right now.

We will be announcing the incredible lineup for this final year of fundraising in the coming week. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Summer 2013 Project Update

Hello everyone!

First off, we'd like to apologize for taking so long before posting this update. But, we have a wonderful reason for being away from the computer recently. We just welcomed the newest member of our family into the world on August 11, 2013. If you would like to hear more about baby Nkoni, please have a look here.

This summer's project has gone very well indeed. We have received many photos from Peguy, and we share those with you below. The last time we heard from Peguy, the finishing touches on the school were on hold until the rain stopped, so we expect some final photos of the finished work any day now. The upgrades this summer rehabilitated the remaining school buildings for the main school site. We're really impressed with the quality of work! They were able to accomplish a lot thanks to your generous support!

Also, later this month we will be talking with the school about getting their small business started. We had a very successful Indiegogo Campaign, and although we didn't raise the full amount, together we raised enough to give the small business a great start.

You'll hear more from us later this month. Until then...

Njacko and Val