A place for refugee and conflict-affected boys and girls to learn about teamwork and leadership while improving their soccer skills.
The Refugees United Soccer Academy (RUSA) is co-created with refugee communities to offer children ages 6 to 13, whose families have been affected by extreme violence, a safe space to play, heal, and be empowered. iACT trains and employs two men and two women from the community to serve as the leaders and coaches of each Academy. Each week, the coaches lead children in mindfulness exercises, warm-ups, skills and drills activities, scrimmages, and team-building exercises.
Ultimately, their goal is to provide a safe place for refugee and conflict-affected children to learn soccer, lead, play, grow, and be children. RUSA also serves as a way to connect refugee and conflict-affected children and youth with soccer players and clubs in the US and across the globe.
Men’s and women’s soccer teams originally formed from the 12 Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad.
Darfur United is more than soccer. It is a movement for hope. In 2012, after years of visiting refugee survivors, iACT co-created the Darfur United Men’s Team with refugees on the Chad-Sudan border and took the team to compete in a World Football Cup. The formation of the team and its participation in a global tournament gave Darfuri refugees a world stage on which to represent their people — and all refugees — and bring attention to some of the most vulnerable and forgotten populations.
Darfur United Men’s Soccer Team
In 2012, the team scored the Darfur community’s first international goal at Viva World Cup in Iraqi-Kurdistan. The 2014 CONIFA World Football Cup in Sweden gave a stage for the players to share their story and advocate for themselves, as the tournament reached 300 million people across 61 countries. Today, the team competes in matches and is composed of Darfuri players who live around the world.
Darfur United Women’s Soccer Team
In 2018, iACT listened to Darfuri refugee women and their aspirations to play, compete, and pave the way for a generation of girls in their community, and supported them in forming the first-ever Darfur United Women’s Team. The team is made up of female players from eight refugee camps in eastern Chad. Still in its early stages, the women’s team is still building and always looking for supporters.
Refugee- and community-led early childhood education.
Little Ripples is an early childhood development program that empowers refugees and communities affected by humanitarian crises to implement child-centered, quality, and comprehensive pre-primary education that supports the social-emotional, cognitive, and physical development of children ages 3 to 5.
Little Ripples is designed to be refugee and community-led in order to build long-term capacity and address the unique needs of children and communities affected by trauma, violence, and displacement. Refugees and conflict-affected community members learn about the Little Ripples curriculum and approach through an in-depth, participatory teacher training, and adapt the curriculum and program activities to their culture and context. Program activities can be adapted to take place in schools, child-friendly spaces, community centers, and home compounds (referred to as Ponds). Additionally, when possible, the Little Ripples program also includes an accompanying meal program to ensure participating children receive much-needed nutrition support.
The Little Ripples curriculum was co-created with refugee communities and developed in collaboration with experts in early childhood development, trauma, pre-primary education, and mindfulness; ensuring that the program includes best-practices for refugee children and those who have experienced trauma and hardship. While the curriculum focuses on teaching literacy and numeracy and can be used alongside any academic pre-primary curriculum, it is grounded in play-based education, trauma-recovery approaches, restorative practices, and incorporates social-emotional learning, empathy development, positive behavior management, peace building, and mindfulness.
A peer-taught leadership development curriculum designed to strengthen the capacity and confidence of conflict-affected men and women.
The Lead with Empathy curriculum was developed in partnership with Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad as a solution to address inequalities in the decision-making system in their community. The curriculum is rooted in empathy and nonviolent communication and is designed to provide information, tools, and guidance for individual and collective leadership development.
Each unit begins with a mindfulness exercise that serves to create a peaceful atmosphere and ensure all participants feel mentally and emotionally prepared and present. The 30-unit curriculum begins with understanding empathy and nonviolent communication before defining various leadership styles and moving into: goal setting, facilitation skills, human rights, community organizing, empowerment, and peace building. The curriculum culminates with a group-based Action Project that guides participants in identifying a problem and designing a solution in their community.
The objectives of Lead with Empathy include:
Increasing the skills of all participants to lead activities, identify challenges,
and implement solutions.
Increasing the capacity of participants to support and empower each other.
Strengthening the foundation of interconnectedness and empathy
Empowering women in particular to be leaders in their work, families, and communities.