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The Ripples

This was first posted on LittleRipples.org

Today was our first day in refugee camp Goz Amer since leaving Los Angeles six days ago. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of time, plane rides, planning, and coordinating it takes to get to eastern Chad. Arriving to Little Ripples School this morning and being greeted by our refugee friends and colleagues was like taking a long deep breath in and letting it out slowly. It was moment of calm, peace, and happiness. We were embraced and welcomed by those that are the reason we put up with such arduous travel.

Following the greetings, we did our best to touch base with everybody. We met with the Refugee United Soccer Academy coaches, the Little Ripples Assessment Team, the majority of the Little Ripples teachers and directors, and our Project Coordinator, Oumda Tarbosh. We visited two Little Ripples in-home Ponds and saw some of the curriculum taking place: the outdoors games, the mindfulness, dancing and songs, literacy through play, a daily meal, and hand-washing with soap. My favorite moment was the dancing. I tried to capture it on camera but just imagine three-to-five-year-old Darfuri boys and girls dancing carefree to Arabic music! It was a surprise for me because this was something the teachers added themselves to the daily curriculum, but it was also a marker of success. The input from the teachers is an approach and aspect of Little Ripples that we really value and cultivate.

Today, we were also able to witness how Little Ripples School is used by others from the community when Little Ripples is not in session. We met with youth who have self-organized and self-funded an after-school English program. I spoke with the young man who started the program, Imad. He said seven teachers including himself are teaching over 160 students ranging from 10 to 45 year olds. They teach all levels of English. In order to offer these classes, Imad and his fellow teachers use the Little Ripples School space, download English lessons onto their phones when they are able to access the internet, transfer the lessons to laptops, and power the laptops and a speaker with a solar panel and battery. They ask the students to contribute what they can so that they can afford to print lessons and purchase materials for learning.