We were finally able to visit the Goz Amer refugee camp today!
First on the agenda was a meeting with Umda, Madie, Alain, and other community members to discuss progress and concerns regarding the opening of the preschool. The meeting took place under a shade tree near the primary school. I was impressed by the simplicity of the meeting; good old-fashioned conversation with one another to reach common ground and make decisions about moving forward with Little Ripples (my thought was that I wish I could see this type of collaboration spoken with such kindness and respect a bit more in meetings attended in the US). It was great to finally meet Umda. I feel like I already know him because Gabriel speaks so highly of him. I can see why :).
Next, we visited the sector where the new refugees are camped. I experienced mixed emotions there. The team definitely made some new friends…we were greeted by the children who were smiling and posing for photos. The children laughed to see themselves and friends faces reflecting back at them in the camera. We had a great time laughing with the children and Jocelyn and I actually taught the children a song in English! The mothers were kind and one mother was willing to talk with Nathan and I about the situation there in the camp. She expressed appreciation for the security of the camp. She also expressed a need for soap, stating that the one bar issued for the family a month ago is diminishing. She also spoke for the group saying that salt, flour, and oil would be nice. It was heart wrenching to see the harsh living conditions that the refugees must endure but heart warming to spend time laughing and singing with the children and getting to know some of their mothers a bit.
Our final stop today was to visit the Little Ripples Preschool…it was amazing!! It was exciting to tour the school. The contractor and workers did a fantastic job! It was much more than four walls. You could tell that special attention was put into details. I surely didn’t expect to see cement floors and a ceiling fan in each room. Time was taken to paint a blue design on the walls and there’s a chalkboard the whole length of one wall. The children will have a safe and wonderful place in which they can play and learn. I can’t wait until it is full of happy children!
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