Little Ripples

Refugee-led early childhood education

Little Ripples is an early childhood development program that empowers refugees and communities affected by humanitarian crises to implement child-centered, quality, and comprehensive pre-primary education that supports the social-emotional, cognitive, and physical development of children ages 3 to 5.

Little Ripples is designed to be refugee- and community-led in order to build long-term capacity and address the unique needs of children and communities affected by trauma, violence, and displacement. Refugees and community members learn about the Little Ripples curriculum and approach through an in-depth, participatory teacher training and adapt the curriculum and program activities to their culture and context. Program activities can be adapted to take place in schools, child-friendly spaces, community centers, and home compounds (referred to as Ponds). Additionally, when possible, the Little Ripples program also includes an accompanying meal program to ensure participating children receive much-needed nutrition support.

The Little Ripples curriculum was co-created with refugee communities and developed in collaboration with experts in early childhood development, trauma, pre-primary education, and mindfulness; ensuring that the program includes best-practices for refugee children and those who have experienced trauma and hardship. While the curriculum focuses on teaching literacy and numeracy and can be used alongside any academic pre-primary curriculum, it is grounded in play-based education, trauma-recovery approaches, restorative practices, and incorporates social-emotional learning, empathy development, positive behavior management, peacebuilding, and mindfulness.

Little Ripples develops a strong foundation of learning, interpersonal skills, empathy, and peace for children and teachers to recover from severe trauma and grow into happy, healthy, and contributing members of society.


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. Building on the need for programs in Chad that address trauma and promote education, health, peacebuilding, and social integration, iACT launched Little Ripples in Chad in 2013. iACT worked directly with Darfuri refugee communities there to develop the Little Ripples program and continues to work directly with these same communities to implement the program. iACT works in collaboration with its partner the Jesuit Refugee Service in Chad.



Leila is 23 years old and is a Little Ripples Teacher in refugee camp Mile. She has spent the majority of her life in a camp where few employment opportunities exist for women. In February 2018, she became a Little Ripples teacher and now helps lead the program in her community.  “I use this mat when I’m teaching. I teach because children are the future. If I teach them then they will be happier and stronger in the future.”

15 Ponds

currently operating in Chad


Darfuri refugee teachers trained


Darfuri refugee children reached so far


meals served to Little Rippers students in Chad per week




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

read more

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

read more

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

read more


In April 2015, political violence and insecurity forced over 400,000 Burundians to flee to neighboring countries. Currently, 204,000 Burundian refugees are residing in three refugee camps in the Kigoma region of Tanzania. Many young Burundian refugee children are out of school and in need of quality early childhood care and development support. In partnership with Plan International Tanzania, iACT launched the Little Ripples program in the Nduta and Mtendeli refugee camps in western Tanzania to support these children and ensure they could exercise their right to education and healthy development.



Adeline lives in Nduta refugee camp with her husband and four children She is an ECCD teacher with Plan International Tanzania and participated in Little Ripples Teacher Training. “From the Little Ripples training, I was happy to get information on how to teach and take care of young children. Before I was working in primary school. Now I know the skills for young children and how to teacher with peace and through playing.”

2 Camps

where Little Ripples is being implemented


teachers trained


children reached so far


children currently enrolled

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

read more

Refugee children battle for education in Tanzania

read more


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. Basic needs such as: food, health, shelter, and water are all primary concerns for the refugee communities and access to other social, protective, and education services remain severely limited. In 2019, with our partner the Jesuit Refugee Service, iACT launched the Little Ripples program in 4 villages in eastern Cameroon



Hadija is a trained Little Ripples teacher and works in a preschool community-based center in a village in eastern Cameroon where refugees from the Central African Republic have been integrated with the local community. When Hadija became a community-based preschool teacher two years ago very few refugee children were attending, but she added that now, “Parents see the children of their neighbors and see how they were changing and growing because of preschool. And so parents become more willing. This year, before the school year, many refugee parents were looking for me and asking me when school would begin for their children.”


community-based pre-schools where Little Ripples is currently operating in Cameroon


Central African refugee and Cameroonian teachers trained


Central African refugee and Cameroonian children reached so far



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

read more

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

read more

CAR Refugees Sing for Peace at Camp in Cameroon

read more



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.