In the past few months, I have been able to reflect on iACT’s amazing accomplishments from 2019. The list seems to go on and on. It is truly incredible how much the US-based staff, refugee staff, and the dedicated group of volunteers have been able to achieve. I think that throughout 2020 I will continue to create goals that, as iACT’s Education Program Manager, I can work to carry out this year.
I full-heartedly believe that iACT will always go above and beyond in helping refugees rediscover their own empowerment—especially in the most vulnerable settings where other humanitarian organizations have withdrawn, aid is sparse, and media coverage is nonexistent. It is always my goal to continue supporting this mission.
Most of my other 2020 goals are very specific to iACT’s early childhood education (ECE) program, Little Ripples. Little Ripples has grown exponentially and continues to run in refugee camps and sites in Chad, Cameroon, Tanzania, Central African Republic, and Greece. The need for sustainable ECE programs is absolutely crucial for all children regardless of the country or context. This is especially true for refugee children who have suffered severe trauma, hardship, and stressors during their young lives. I honestly think author Frederick Douglass said it best: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.” I want to help iACT continue empowering refugee youth, which will in-turn create a generation of activists breaking cycles of violence.
In Chad, Little Ripples runs in 4 camps and this year has reached over 1,050 children. My 2020 goal for Chad is to help expand Little Ripples into the remaining 4 camps.
In Cameroon, there are 16 Little Ripples programs running in refugee sites and this year has reached over 1,640 children. My 2020 goal for Cameroon is to help implement Teacher Training III to the committed teachers.
In Tanzania, Little Ripples runs in 2 camps and this year has reached over 1,300 children. My 2020 goal for Tanzania is to help complete Teacher Training III.
As iACT’s founder Gabriel Stauring mentioned in his blog, our annual event was given a perfectly fitting theme: impACT. When I first heard this theme, I thought of how powerful the word “impact” is. Impact (in relation to iACT) is more than merely having an effect in or influencing refugee settings. I like to think of impact in terms of its other definitions as well: to strike, collide, or fill up. iACT works to strike down the top-down humanitarian system where refugees remain powerless and recreate a system where refugees have agency and their voices are heard.
So, my biggest goal for 2020 is to help strike and collide with the traditional humanitarian world and fill it up with iACT’s atypical, but profoundly important, value to listen first and therefore give refugees their voices back.