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“Refugee-led” is an adjective that describes Little Ripples and Refugees United Soccer Academy (RUSA), and today, I felt this feature of our international programs very acutely. For the launching of Little Ripples in camp Djabal, (eastern Chad) iACT’s in-camp coordinator, Al-fateh (a.k.a. “Oumda”), traveled over from camp Goz Amer with two teachers and one cook. We’ve been utilizing peer-to-peer training in bringing in new teachers, and these four Little Ripples veterans will be helping us start in-home preschool centers (“Ponds”) complete with a meal program here in Djabal. There’s been a RUSA in this camp for quite a few years now, and the four academy coaches also came out today to help with the endeavor of starting a program that will be brand new for this community. But wait, that’s not all! Since iACT has been visiting Djabal for over the past ten years, we’ve made some really good refugee friends, and three of these old friends are giving some of their time and skills to our current trip’s mission, too. With Gabriel, Sara-Christine, and me, this makes a grand total of thirteen people working together (here in the field) to bring Little Ripples to camp Djabal.

On our second day at the camp, together, as one large group, we walked around and through different sectors and blocks, scoping out potential Pond sites. Together, we held an introductory meeting with a number of women whom we’ll be training and from whom we’ll be choosing six as Ponds teachers. At the end of the day, the soon-to-be teachers-in-training went home, and it was the thirteen of us left, sitting together in an empty classroom. As we enjoyed the quiet shade of the indoors, I became aware of how….ordinary it felt. And I don’t mean “ordinary” with a negative “boring, humdrum” connotation. I mean “ordinary” in the “this feels like I’m in an everyday, normal setting, and not like I’m in a refugee camp” type of way.