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Second Time Around in T’Chad

Leading up to my second trip to the refugee camps, I’ve been filled with much more anxiety and nervousness than the first time around. Although I have an idea of the conditions we can be expecting in T’Chad and in the camps, there is so much to accomplish on this trip. We brought a WHOLE lot of classroom materials (including some great materials donated from Scholastic and Lakeshore Learning Supply), assessment tools (scales, questionnaires, height sticks), and teacher training materials; and the LR team was printing and packing materials up until the morning of our departure! In the back of my head I keep running through the lists of what we need and making sure that we brought it. (On a personal note – I have already discovered I failed to pack my headlamp, dental floss, laptop charger, phone charger, and notebook…doh!) Well, I guess it’s too late now to worry, whatever we have we have and what we don’t we will just make it work along the way.

One of the native fauna of N'Djamena. Photo: i-ACT/Gabriel Stauring

One of the famous lizards of N’Djamena. Photo: i-ACT/Gabriel Stauring

The things weighing heavily on my mind right now include the hiring and training of the community health educators who will serve in a school nurse capacity. We are also setting up and leaving a CommKit with Little Ripples so that the head teacher will be able to communicate with our board of Expert Teacher Advisors for support and feedback. I had my first experience helping our i-ACT tech team test out the new CommKit’s connectivity in LA the day before I left – fingers crossed that we will be able to get it up and running in the camps.

Even with the expected hiccups along the way, I am so confident that we will complete what we need to do this time around traveling with a larger team including Jocelyn and Melissa (our first team of Expert Teacher Advisors conducting the teacher training) and Nathan (assessment design and implementation extraordinaire). On top of just being able to work with the ‘expect the unexpected’ mentality of T’Chad, Jocelyn used to be an EMT (always a plus to have that medical knowledge around!) and Nathan speaks French, making it that much easier to get around.

It’s been a while since I’ve had roommates, but Jocelyn and Melissa definitely got a taste of my sleeptalking last night. I guess I went to bed with Pure Barre on my mind because I awoke to being in a conversation with Jocelyn about pushing her hands away from the bar at forehead level…Hey, after traveling for 24 hours you’d be a little loopy too!

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Jennifer became passionate about international development and humanitarian work when studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, and leading youth performing arts workshops in one of the surrounding townships. After graduating from UCLA with a Masters in Public Health in Community Health Sciences, she taught adolescent reproductive health to high school students in South and East Los Angeles. She has also worked as a Research Associate at the UCLA Center for Health Services and Society, where she was able to foster an understanding of the community engagement and community resilience approaches, and hopes to incorporate these strategies in her work with Little Ripples. jennifer@iactivism.org


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