Our Unintended Impact

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The model and approach of our early childhood education program, Little Ripples, is based on partnering with and empowering refugees to be the managers and implementers of the program. In our experience in eastern Chad, this focus on relationship and capacity building is unique. The process of developing Little Ripples with refugees is as important as its daily implementation and impact on the children. We focus on supporting refugees’ leadership development in all that we do, and we’ve recently learned that the men and women we work with have demonstrated leadership and impact beyond what we had imagined. Here’s how:

Zainab Empowers Other Women

Zainab has been a Little Ripples teacher in camp Goz Amer for four years and is currently teaching at a Pond. In March, we sat and spoke with Zainab about her experience at Little Ripples, her life as a woman in the camps, and her thoughts on the iACT LEAD with EMPATHY leadership development curriculum.


“We are learning how to be good leaders with empathy. We learn about human rights of all people, including that of women and children. We learn how we as teachers and adults can ensure children have their human rights. Before, I knew the title of ‘Human Rights,’ but I did not really understand all of the principles and what Human Rights means. I’ve learned that I have the same rights as men. Before this curriculum, I was shy to speak in front of people because I did not know it was my right to express myself. Many people do not know that men and women are equal in life, in the home and outside the home. Now we know and we share that. The curriculum has opened our minds that we, women, have the same power as men.”

Zainab would also go on to tell us that she and some of the other Little Ripples teachers have decided the LEAD with EMPATHY curriculum information was too important to keep to themselves. They now meet with Jesuit Refugee Service female “Kiosk” preschool teachers and female primary school teachers to share the curriculum.

“We focus especially on the Human Rights. Then we ask them to share the information with others.”

Ahmed Impacts Primary School Instruction

Ahmed is the Little Ripples School After-school Coordinator, a teacher at a primary school in camp Goz Amer, and the translator for all Little Ripples Teacher Trainings in camp Goz Amer. He has been part of the Little Ripples program since 2013.

As a translator, Ahmed has participated in and completed more than eight Little Ripples Teacher Trainings. His son was a student of Little Ripples and has since graduated to primary school.

As a result of witnessing the impact of Little Ripples on his son and his ongoing participation in so many teacher trainings, Ahmed decided to take what he had learned from the training and incorporate the approach, tools, and philosophy of Little Ripples into his primary school classroom. The impact has been remarkable. Here is what Ahmed had to say:

“When my son was at Little Ripples, he was so happy. Everyday he would come home and tell us what he had learned and was doing at Little Ripples. When he turned six and it was time for him to go to primary school, he did not want to because he loved Little Ripples so much.

“I like so much of what I have learned from Little Ripples, including the mindfulness, the playing, the asking about feelings, and the positive behavior management, that I take all this and do it with my Level 1 class. Over the year, I have seen that my class is doing better emotionally and academically than even the older Level 5 students.

“Other teachers at the primary school see how well my students are doing and ask me to train them. Now, I have a timetable of training with the other teachers, and I teach them about the Little Ripples curriculum and how to use it with their students.”

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Support refugee-led soccer programs for boys and girls and help change a life.

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refugees from Darfur, Sudan, living in refugee camps located in Chad.

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A mosaic of people that calls for open arms in welcoming and supporting refugees everywhere.

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current capacity at the RUSA academies

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