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Zaineb

Over the years, my friends and I have gotten in the practice of sharing with each other the high and low of our day. It’s our way of checking in and creating an opportunity for us to find gratitude each day and share a challenge if needed. The highs are not necessarily earth-shattering because the point is to create awareness of the subtle yet meaningful acts, interactions, or events that occur throughout our day. And sometimes we find it hard to think of a low, but we’re OK with that. I’ve decided to maintain this practice while in eastern Chad. At the end of each day in the camps, whether on the drive back or unwinding at the United Nations compound, I reflect on the high and the low of my day.

Today, my high was listening to Zaineb excitedly talk in English with me.

Zaineb is a Little Ripples teacher. She is 19 years old. She is not married. For now, she wishes to continue to work and pursue her schooling instead of being married. Every morning, Zaineb wakes up, says her morning prayers, fetches water from one of the water pumps in the camp, cleans her house and prepares herself a small snack before heading to her Little Ripples Pond to teach. What makes Zaineb happy is her job at Little Ripples. “Because I am a teacher at Little Ripples, I no longer have to walk many hours to work at the farm. I get to stay here and be with children, and that makes me feel happy.” Zaineb’s salary has also allowed her to take an English class that is organized and lead by her peers. This I did not know until today.

The past couple of days I’ve greeted Zaineb with the usual, “Hi, how are you?” and the, “See you tomorrow!” That’s it. It wasn’t until the very end of today, just before she was leaving to head home that I learned of her new English skills. Zaineb walked up to me and asked me how I was feeling, and if it was hard for me to be in Africa. A very thoughtful question indeed, but it practically went in one ear and out the other because in that moment I was overcome with excitement and shock at our new ability to communicate together without a translator! Oh! The freedom! I suddenly had a million questions and all I wanted to do was listen to her.

Minutes later my second thought was: I should record this. I always so badly want the world to see Darfuri refugees the way that we at iACT see them. In moments like these, with Zaineb, we see how they express themselves, ask questions, share their perspectives, experiences, and dreams, and reveal what’s always there but not alway seen: so much potential, intelligence, humor, kindness, curiosity, depth, empathy, individuality, and the list goes on.

And so, through the video below, I share with you the high of my day. Not earth-shattering, but incredibly meaningful for me to see a young woman, who we’ve known for years, learning, dreaming, and building confidence.

Please watch and share this video of the beautiful, intelligent, and motivated Zaineb as she excitedly and nervously expresses herself to you in her newly learned language. Perhaps it will be the high of your day too.


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Sara-Christine Dallain

Sara-Christine Dallain holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Masters in Public Health from the University of California, Los Angeles. Through her previous work with Direct Relief; Réseau Africain d’Education pour la Santé (RAES) in Senegal, Africa; and Board Member of Chad Relief Foundation; Dallain brings on-the-ground insight and experience in program design, evaluation, and implementation for health and education projects in sub-Saharan Africa. As i-ACT Director of Programs, she manages the development, implementation, and evaluation of i-ACT programs in refugee camps, serves as the organization’s primary grant writer, contributes greatly to social media and marketing content, collaborates with and oversees program volunteers, and supports i-ACT development and fundraising initiatives. Dallain has been working in both southern and eastern Chad refugee camps since 2011, and is one of the staff members regularly traveling to eastern Chad refugee camps and global conferences.

 

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