A peer-taught leadership development curriculum designed to strengthen the capacity and confidence of refugee men and women

LEAD with EMPATHY is a leadership development and empowerment program that provides the tools and guidance for refugees and communities affected by humanitarian crises to learn and practice leadership skills. In humanitarian crises, individuals and communities often lack power over the resources and decisions that affect their daily lives. This inequality springs from a spectrum of causes, including: displacement and legal status, economic constraints, and the loss of agency within the top-down humanitarian structure. Through the LEAD with EMPATHY program, iACT aims to empower men and women to break the cycle of violence that is endemic to humanitarian crises and to increase their power and agency over the resources and decisions that affect their daily lives and futures.

The LEAD with EMPATHY curriculum was developed in partnership with Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad as a solution to address inequalities in the decision-making system in their community. The curriculum is rooted in empathy and nonviolent communication and is designed to provide information, tools, and guidance for individual and collective leadership development. Each unit begins with a mindfulness exercise that serves to create a peaceful atmosphere and ensure all participants feel mentally and emotionally prepared and present. The 30-unit curriculum begins with understanding empathy and nonviolent communication before defining various leadership styles and moving into: goal setting, facilitation skills, human rights, community organizing, empowerment, and peacebuilding. The curriculum culminates with a group-based Action Project that guides participants in identifying a problem and designing a solution in their community.

The objectives of the LEAD with EMPATHY include…

Increasing the skills of all participants to lead activities, identify challenges, and implement solutions.
Increasing the capacity of participants to support and empower each other.
Strengthening the foundation of interconnectedness and empathy between participants.
Empowering women in particular to be leaders in their work, families, and communities.


Little Ripples is active in Chad, Tanzania, and Cameroon.


The Darfur genocide took place in 2003, killing an estimated 370,000 individuals and displacing more than 3 million. Today, nearly 340,00 Darfuri refugees are living in 12 camps in eastern Chad with limited access to critical services. To support and empower the Darfuri refugee staff delivering the Little Ripples and RUSA programs, iACT launched the LEAD with EMPATHY program in Chad in 2016 and continues to support the program today.



Souad is an Education Director of Little Ripples in refugee camp Goz Amer. She has been leading the program since 2016. “Before [LEAD with EMPATHY], we didn’t know how to communicate with the community in a positive way. Now, at meetings with parents, with community leaders, and in education meetings, we share our ideas. For problems we want to fix, we prepare what we will say and then meet with camp block leaders and talk about the issues and try to explain the rights of women and children and why what is happening is not good for the community."


Darfuri refugee women who have completed the program


Darfuri refugee men and women currently participating in the program




estimated people killed in Darfur genocide (Reeves)

3 million

people displaced by Darfur genocide (Reeves)


Darfuri refugees living in eastern Chad (Reeves)



Sudanese refugees in Chad short of basics

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Darfur Refugees in Eastern Chad: The Most Invisible Casualties of the Darfur Genocide

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Little Ripples programme has a big effect on young refugee children in Chad

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In April 2015, political violence and insecurity forced over 400,000 Burundians to flee to neighboring countries. Currently, approximately 200,000 Burundian refugees are residing in 3 refugee camps in the Kigoma region of Tanzania. To support and empower the Burundian refugee staff delivering the Little Ripples and RUSA programs in Tanzania, iACT launched the LEAD with EMPATHY program in 2018, with our partner Plan International Tanzania, and continues to support the program today.



Anaclet is a Refugees United Soccer Academy coach and leader in Mtendeli Camp. He has completed the LEAD with EMPATHY curriculum and has a vision to use the power of sport to spread peace and love in his community and beyond. “My vision is to change, to explain, and to educate for peace and love with politics.”


Burundian refugee men and women currently participating in the program (50% men and 50% women)

Burundian CRISIS



Burundians displaced as refugees due to violence (UNHCR)


Burundian refugees living in western Tanzania (UNHCR)


Burundian refugee children out-of-school in Tanzania
(Camp enrollment figures)



Burundian mother stands out in male-dominated carpentry class in Tanzania

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Refugee children battle for education in Tanzania

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In 2013, thousands of people were forced to flee the Central African Republic (CAR) due to an outbreak of violence, and ongoing conflict has forced many to remain in neighboring countries. Currently, there are over 250,000 refugees from CAR living in Eastern Cameroon. To support the Central African refugee staff delivering the Little Ripples and RUSA programs, iACT will launch the LEAD with EMPATHY program in Cameroon in 2019 with our partner the Jesuit Refugee Service.



2.9 million

people in need of humanitarian support inside CAR (UNHCR)


Central Africans displaced as refugees due to violence (UNHCR)


Central African refugees living in eastern Cameroon (UNHCR)



BBC Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman outlines the background to the CAR crisis in two minutes


2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for the Central African Republic

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Hundreds of thousands of people have found safe haven in Cameroon but have limited access to food, water and healthcare

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CAR Refugees Sing for Peace at Camp in Cameroon

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Sustainer of Action

Help advance our mission to provide humanitarian action to aid, empower, and extend hope to those affected by mass atrocities.

Pathways for Peace Collaborative

Work to end identity-based violence, from dangerous speech to genocide, in the US and abroad.


iACT is always looking for people like you to join our community and contribute your skills.


iACT 33 in Chad: The Work Continues

iACT 33 in Chad: The Work Continues

Toward the end of January, iACT’s program associate Julia and I traveled to Chad to connect with our teammates living in the Darfuri refugee camps located in the eastern part of the country. We were there for a couple weeks, and the camps we stopped in were Am Nabak, Touloum, Iridimi, Djabal, and Goz Amer. We refer to this trip as “iACT33” because members of the iACT family, starting with our founder Gabriel Stauring, have now gone to Chad 33 times. Gabriel’s first trip was in 2005, and Katie-Jay later joined him for several visits.

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