To Be Heard is to Unbury Your Own Empowerment
This is my third trip to Greece with iACT. Each trip our intention is to listen to refugee and asylum-seeking community members, to see them and to walk beside them at this moment in their journey. As Abdarahim shared with us, “We do not get our time here back.” My hope is that the time we spend working together toward a common goal—a better future for all of our children and community—will also create peace and joy in their hearts and daily lives.
Eight people have surfaced as part of a team of Lead Teachers here in camp Katiskas, outside the quiet mountain town of Ioannina, Greece. They completed Little Ripples Teacher Training I in August with Joslyn Hitter, Deb Senior, and me, and have been with us each and every moment of learning, sharing, and expressing for the past three days. We also have seven new Assistant Teachers who have been participating in the program who wanted to become Little Ripples certified.
The last several months have been a challenge. The program moved from an outside playground area where it was well attended, to an indoor space in a large, clunky, metal and pretty much unwelcoming former airport hangar. With the onset of chilly evenings with temperatures dropping to 25 or 30 degrees, attendance shrunk. Additionally, someone recently broke into our space and stole all our program materials, and left the place dirty and dusty. iACT’s Founder Gabriel Stauring explains that these are the battles communities on the move face every day—“uncertainty, the sense of powerlessness, and yet the strength to get up every morning and keep going.”
Today, we spent time in an amazing space reconnecting with one another, listening, and sharing. As we spoke, I felt their need to be heard. It’s tangible as they share their successes and also their struggles. To be heard is to unbury your own empowerment; to find the space between giving up and moving forward; to be part of something greater. Yes, we discussed child development, play-based learning, daily routines, identifying emotions, and the program pillars peace, helping, and sharing. After lunch, we sat in a circle with the eight team members who had been teaching and coordinating the program since August. This is what we heard:
“I learn from the students, and they learn from us.” – Islam
“All the kids, from all over, they learn from each other. We come together. United.” – Nasrin
“I knew the words peace, helping, sharing. But I didn’t know their meaning until being with iACT.” – Emmanuel
“There’s no other activity for the women, from all the different countries, to come together. To create a shared community, a shared responsibility.” – Abdarahim
iACT because… “I firmly believe that to genuinely have a positive, long-lasting effect on the refugee communities we work with, we must move with intention and purpose and center their wants and needs every step of the way.”
iACT because “I believe I have a lot to learn about and create change”.
With the Help of South Bay Supporters, a Soccer Team in Darfur Takes the World Stage with Life-changing Results
Darfur United is so much more than soccer. It is an important acknowledgment of the awful atrocities being committed against humanity and a stand against them. It is a community of joy amid terrible pain and a symbol of the determination and resilience of human beings. Above all, it is a shining beacon of hope.