Post 18: Using the Final 2017 Donations

Here is the latest in our compound wall construction endeavors: We used the remaining funds that were donated at the end of this past year to purchase as many supplies as we could get. The property is much larger than we estimated and it is taking more bricks to build the wall than we could predict. But, everyone is working hard to help us continue achieving the dream. Thank you Aline Bangoura for carrying the money out to the land and purchasing the supplies we need to continue.

Thank you to everyone who continues to show their support. Every penny and every brick makes a difference. Step-by-step we are moving forward. Please donate today so that our construction may continue!

Post 17: Beginning Construction

Our construction team has been working very hard since we bought all the supplies at the beginning of the year. In just a few weeks time, the wall foundation was laid and over half of the wall was constructed. Fode A. and his team have used up all the supplies we could afford to purchase while Fode Lavia, Forrest, and I were out there. Just before Fode Lavia left, I wired him the remaining donations that were processed by GFM and PayPal GivingFund. Dakino and Fode's cousin, Aline Bangoura, will head out to the land in the next couple weeks and use the funds to buy as much building material as possible. We hope to finish the compound wall very soon and pray that the money sent will be enough.

Thank you to all who continue to support our project. Please spread the word to help us keep construction going!

Donate today at our PayPal Giving Fund!

Post 16: Blessing the Land

Ibrahima Dakino Camara also undertook the task of purchasing the all white sacrificial ram for the blessing of the land. Being a part of those prayers and the blessing was powerful. As a foreigner to the experience of animal sacrifice, it was extremely emotional. The anticipation of that moment was intense. I wasn’t sure how I would feel when the time came. It wasn’t easy for me, but I can say that I felt a unique connection to the land, the ram, all those who we are working with and prayed together with in that moment. It was very humbling.

To my amazement, the minute the blessing ceremony was done, the construction workers got right to it and the first drops of cement were poured. So much progress was made in just that one evening. Even more beautiful was that Thursday night we were joined by Greg Jones, Jean M Solomon-Candelario and Cande Candelario. It meant a lot to share our meal made with the meat of our sacrificial ram with fellow members of our American drumming community as well as our close friends and family in Guinea.



Post 15: The most productive day!

This update is long over due. My second week in Guinea with Forrest and Fode Lavia was very productive and eventful! I am so excited to share the progress that has been made on the land and what a cultural and connecting experience ir was for me. Fode and I traveled to the Forecariah on Thursday, Dec. 28th. It was wonderful to see all the supplies we had already purchased laid out in neat, organized piles along the east side of our land. Fode A. and Seni have been working hard to make sure work continues. Dakino has also done a great job of traveling back and forth with and without us to maintain communication with Fode A. and Seni.

There is so much more to share about our progress and our 3rd annual KALOUM DJEMBE festival that took place the following Friday and Saturday. Stay tuned! Pictures of the land will be posted on If you want to see photos from the land blessing ceremony, visit They will be posted in a few days.

There is still so much work to do. Forrest, Fode, all the locally employed workers building on our land, the local materials suppliers and I are all thankful for the financial support everyone has provided so far. Please join those who have already donated and support our cause here on GoFundMe or via our ‘fee free’ donations link at

Post 14: The pains of buying supplies…

There’s no Home Depot in Guinea, so buying supplies isn’t as simple as grabbing a shopping    cart and going down the list.  On Friday, we all started on our property.  Then, Dakino and Fode A. went out to negotiate the prices for the materials we need.

While they were out, the rest of us stayed to receive the sand and blocks for the wall foundation.  After that, we joined Fode A. and Dakino.  We went through each item on the list and pulled out cash to pay for each one by one.  In the end, we didn’t have enough money to buy everything.  We sold some cement back to but other materials that are needed immediately.

The money that was donated this past Monday  by the Helgager-Huges family, Susan Natalie, and Palms of Fire is going to be wired to us this Tuesday and will be enough to get most of the remaining materials needed.

Right now,  the water reservoir is being built.  When we go back on Wednesday,  we will buy as much of the remaining supplies and possible.  We also hope to conduct the ceremony for the blessing of the land.  No official construction can begin until this is done.


Getting the land cleared.

Fresh sand for the wall foundation.

Fode A. describing our water challenges.


Post 13: Contacting Suppliers

We went out to Forecariah yesterday and had a productive meeting with Fode A. and Seni.  They are doing a great job overseeing the management of the property and the construction.  Everything is just as we left from last year, except the grass which has grown back from the rainy season.   Fode A. made several phone calls for us, contacting suppliers for our construction materials.  We’ve coordinated for the larger items that need to be dropped off by truck, such as the sand, bricks, rocks, and water.  Our well needs to be dug much deeper for us to get to the ground water.

Our plan is to have the large items dropped off Friday morning.  I will stay on the land with Seni to receive the delivery while Fode Lavia and Fode A. go to purchase the rest of the materials and tools together.

Inshah allah, all will go well tomorrow!

Help us keep this project going by donating at – choose from any of the options to make donating easy!


Post 12: We do this for you Bayiby!

Forrest, Fode and I are all here now. It is so nice to see Fode’s dad and all of his family. We are getting ready today to head out to our land early Wednesday morning. There is a lot to do to get ready for our 3rd annual KALOUM DJEMBE festival and to get construction started.

Bayiby and his dance choreographer, Sakoba Bangoura, selecting costumes for Gbassikolo to wear for their performance in the festival. I love this process they go through for each show, pulling all the costumes out of Bayiby’s giant trunk, laying them all out in front of the house and going through them with the dancers.



Post 11: It’s already been 1 year!

One year ago, Fode Lavia Camara, Forrest Fodé Matthews, and I left for Guinea to begin the process of creating Bayiby Cultural Arts Academy. This year, Fode Lavia Camara and Forrest Fodé Matthews just arrived in Conakry and I will be arriving next weekend. Planning is already in the works for the KALOUM Djembe festival and construction will begin on the school once I arrive!! I can’t wait to get out there and see the fruits of our fundraising this year!

Post 10: Cultural Education Essential

Dear Friends and Family - Thank you so much for your continued support for International Inspiration's educational projects abroad. The work we do is so important. While there is much to be done even in the education system in America, which our board members also support, there is even more work that needs to be done abroad; where access to information, funding, and resources are exponentially more limited. Children and adults around the world should have access to quality education as well as exposure to a range of cultural experiences. Education and culture are two key components to being human and coexisting peacefully.

While it is rainy season in Guinea, much work continues behind the scenes. Fundraising during this time is vital so that we have enough money to kick off construction this December. Please help us out by donating or by spreading the word that we need donations.

Post 9: Rainy Season

With rainy season moving into full effect, work on the land will be on hold for the next few months. Mobility is difficult during the rainy season and construction is impossible. Over the summer we will be focusing on fundraising and raising awareness for our project. Our hope is to be able to dive into construction and hit the ground running after rainy season is over.

We had a wonderful time raising awareness for our project at the Kumandi Drum and Dance camp and now we are planning a summer tour. In August, Forrest and Fode will be traveling to different states in the southeast offering a variety of classes. Proceeds from these classes will be donated to our construction fund. If you would like to host us in your city, contact Forrest or Erica!

Based on our research last winter, we will need approximately $10,000 to complete the entire school. This is our fundraising goal for 2017. Please donate today or shop in our store to help us reach that goal!!