The curriculum has opened our minds

by | Mar 23, 2017

Leadership is more than status or title. Leadership is the way someone behaves, treats others, and the decisions he or she makes.

This explanation is found in iACT’s new LEAD with EMPATHY leadership development curriculum. LEAD with EMPATHY was created to support iACT Little Ripples‘ female Education Directors and teachers in their new roles as educators and leaders in the community. The idea for the curriculum sprang from conversations with the women. Over the past year, we learned that most of the women struggled to speak at community meetings and lacked the confidence and tools to make decisions in the face of opposition and competing ideas, despite knowing they are the leaders of Little Ripples. Hearing this, as a team, and with the Little Ripples staff, we went back to the drawing board and asked, “how might we empower the women to feel more confident and be more efficient as the leaders of the program and in the community?”

What resulted (many, many months later) was a 30-lesson, peer-led curriculum that challenges the women to redefine what leadership means and what it could look like in their community. It also arms them with information, tools, and perspectives for problem-solving and peace-building.

The Little Ripples Education Directors and teachers now meet once a week to complete one lesson at-a-time. I recently spoke with Zainab, a Little Ripples teacher who has been with the program since its inception in 2013. Here’s what Zainab had to say about her experience with the curriculum thus far:

“We sit in a circle. We all put our curriculum in front of us, and we read it out loud. We talk about the lesson, we give ideas, we make sure we all understand, and then we give an evaluation of the topic.

We are learning how to be a good leader with empathy and to listen to others, and we learn about the human rights of all people, including women’s and children’s. We find out how we as teachers and adults can make sure children have their human rights. Before I knew the title of human rights, but I did not understand all of the principles and what human rights means. I’ve learned through the curriculum that I have the same rights as men. I feel the information advances me. It makes me feel like there are so much more opportunities for women and I feel like I can also use this information as a teacher with my students.

Before this curriculum, I was shy to speak in front of people because I didn’t know it was my right to express myself. Now, I do. Many people don’t know that men and women are equal in life—in the home and outside the home. Now we know, and we share that. The curriculum has opened our mind that we women have the same power as men.”

I also learned that the Little Ripples teachers have decided the information is too valuable to keep to themselves! With no direction from iACT, they’ve begun to organize meetings with the Jesuit Refugee Service Kiosk preschool teachers and the female primary school teachers in their camp to show them the curriculum and tell them about what they’re learning. “We focus especially on the human rights of women and children. Then we ask them to share the information with others.”

Thank you for all those who have — and continue — to support the design and development of the LEAD with EMPATHY curriculum—Amplify, UK AID and Dining for Women—and the experts who have contributed to its content. And thank you to the Little Ripples women for demonstrating true leadership by amplifying the impact of the curriculum. I no longer want to hear from women (or men), “We did not know that men and women are equal in life.” So, with help from Little Ripples teachers, we’ll keep working on the curriculum, and as an organization we’ll continue to create opportunities for women across all the camps in eastern Chad to feel “advanced” — like Zainab.

Are you interested in learning more about the LEAD with EMPATHY curriculum!? Please feel free to email ktj@iact.ngo for more information.

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