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Little Ripples…Yurts?

Yurts.  For starters, it’s such a weird word.  My team has been looking at yurts as an option for Little Ripples classrooms.  We first had to get over that weird name for the round hut-like structures — and then dive into information that can helps us decide whether they make sense for the extreme conditions of Eastern Chad.

Construction is about to start on the first Little Ripples Center.  For this, we are going through the traditional system of building a school in a refugee camp in that remote region. To say the least, it is very expensive. Material has to come from far away, and everything is extremely costly in Chad, no matter where in that country.  Even though we’re only at the start of building this first center, we are already thinking about the process of scaling up.  If we want to provide services for every child within the target ages of 3 to 5, we will need approximately a dozen Little Ripples Centers.  Looking at those numbers and all expenses including and beyond the construction costs, scaling up looks close to impossible or sustainable.  We must cut the cost of creating the spaces for our little ripples, the kids.

What we do not want to cut, though, is our mission to create a magical space for these precious children. Little Ripples is so much more than four walls, but we know that creating the appropriate spaces for the kids to be in is essential.  It must be safe, comfortable, healthy, and yes — beautiful.  We would not want anything less for our own children, and that’s the measure I keep looking at.

Why is space and environment important? Some key points we’ve learned:

  • It impacts how children learn
  • It impacts relationships
  • It impacts a teacher’s ability to support best practices

Of course, whatever we do must be…doable.  So, we’re looking at yurts.  Here are two companies we’ve looked at:



Shipping is a huge and expensive challenge.  We still have to do research on that and ask our UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) colleagues about logistics, if we get the yurt (or other pre-fabs) to the capital of Chad.  We’re also hoping to find a yurt owner in a U.S. state that experiences high temperatures.  If I can find one close enough, I’d love to visit.

What do you think of yurts?  Do you have any other ideas on what might work for classrooms in remote, harsh, challenging eastern Chad?

Let me know!


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Gabriel co-founded Stop Genocide Now in 2005, which gave birth to i-ACT in 2009. He became involved in the situation in Darfur out of a sense of personal responsibility. He believes the power of community and compassion, combined with personal empowerment, can bring about meaningful change.



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