Thirteen years. Thirteen years. Thirteen years was very difficult for me grasp today as we walked refugee camp Djabal. Thirteen years is the amount of time Darfuris have been living in refugee camps in eastern Chad. Over thirteen years the trees all over camp Djabal have grown very tall and full, yet everything else has remained the same, if not worse. The schools. The homes. The lack of opportunity. No realistic solutions for self-reliance. Thirteen years, the trees are thriving and the refugees are not.
But whether I can grasp it or not, we keep walking, listening, and talking solutions. We walked the camp to visit homes and begin planning what Little Ripples will look like for this community in early 2017. We sat with old friends and new friends in the shade of the big, beautiful trees to hear about their life and the condition of education.
A new friend we had the honor of listening to was Acha. Acha is the Director of Ali Dinar primary school. Acha is kind, and smart, and is one of the few women in a leadership position in the camp. She was incredibly informative as we begin the process to plant the seeds for Little Ripples and a different approach to education in this camp. Here’s what we learned from Acha today:
140: Total number of primary and secondary school teachers and school directors in refugee camp Djabal. Of the 140, approximately 25 are women.
*Little Ripples employs women as the Education Directors, teachers, cooks and leaders of the program. In introducing Little Ripples we’ll reduce gender-inequality in positions of formal employment.
400: Number of students registered at one of the primary schools in camp Djabal. Last year it was 700. Why the decrease? Non-governmental organizations supporting this refugee population are facing budget cuts and in order to make up the difference, they are asking students to pay a monthly fee and purchase a school uniform. But most families cannot afford these fees, so students have no choice but to stop attending school.
*Thanks to our donors, Little Ripples will be free for students, including the daily meal.
60 to 100: The number of children per classroom in primary schools with one teacher.
*Little Ripples has two teachers to 45 students, ensuring every child is engaged and receiving personal attention.
Thirteen years is a long time, and its hard to grasp. But since spending time with iACT mindfulness experts Trudy Goodman and Joslyn Hitter, I’ve learned that all that matters is here and now. The past does not matter, and neither does the future. What matters is what we can we do now. And right now we have an opportunity, through Little Ripples, to revitalize education for this refugee community. We have an opportunity to invest now in the most vulnerable and critical age group. We have an opportunity now to plant seeds of education, hope, and peace.
Now, that’s what we’re going to do.
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