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The Rabbits started off. Then the Lions proceeded, with the Elephants following the Lions. The Tigers went last.

We get picked up by 6:30am every morning, then go on a ride through parched land to the refugee camp (camp Goz Amer in eastern Chad). We’re en route so early in the day that various fauna are out and active, and we are privy to their morning meanderings, taking place before the desert oven turns on and the baking heat sets in. It’s like going on our own mini-safari. The view outside our old Land Cruiser is quite serene, really. One can easily imagine that the hazy dust hanging low in the air is a layer of fog romantically lifting off some nearby, unseen lake. Camels plod along, goats chase each other around rocks and dry bramble, and the occasional herd of emaciated cattle lumbers through. We point out different types of monkeys to each other (one kind has a grayish-pinkish hairless section on its rear end, in the shape of a peach cut in half), while cranes and other birds that look like they could have been lifted off the pages of a Dr. Seuss book strut and flap around on both sides of the dirt road.

So that’s the first group of animals we came across during our fifth day in eastern Chad.

The second group of animals that we spent time with on this day comprised of the ones listed at the top of this page. It was day #4 of teacher training, which meant this was….review time! We’ve learned that many of the women here really enjoy friendly competition, be it having relay races against each other, or even being split into small groups to review and be “quizzed” on training content. We also encourage picking team names, and the animal theme continues to have long-standing popularity. And so, in our training classroom today, we were in the company of Team Rabbit, Team Lion, Team Elephant, and Team Tiger. (It’s always nice when you’re surrounded by a balance of carnivores and herbivores.) The order of the procession above was the order in which we called on the groups to answer questions we posed.

All four groups did extremely well during the review session, and that was encouraging. There’s definitely moments on these training trips during which I catch glimpses of Doubt lurking about. “Do these women even want to listen to anything you have to say? Is any of this material being absorbed by your audience?” Doubt quietly asks. As review time progressed this morning, I was able to look Doubt in its Cyclops eye (Yes, Doubt has only one eye. Don’t ask me why.) and say, with resounding conviction, “YES.” Not only do these teachers-in-training care about what they’re learning; as the week has advanced, they’ve been increasingly taking Little Ripples as their own. And it’s evident that they’re truly internalizing and believing in the program’s philosophies. This last bit serves as powerful motivation for me to continue believing in our work; and with “our,” I am referring to iACT’s global volunteers, refugee staff, and those of us whose names are listed on the iACT website.

So the review session was an inspiring one.

And on the way back to our lodging this afternoon, I got to see, for the first time in my life as far as I can remember, a monkey pooping. Oh, animals.


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