When we drove up to Little Ripples a couple days ago, I got a little choked up seeing the buildings for the very first time in person. Sure, I had seen photographs numerous times, but being at our preschool gave me such a sense of pride in i-ACT. When we got out of the car and started walking around, the sounds of students could immediately be heard floating out each of the six classrooms, and oh, what beautiful sounds they were. At this point, I got teary-eyed because the different learning activities that we could hear throughout the school grounds just really made Little Ripples sound like….a school. Later on, I played with some of the kids – well, a lot of the kids, actually, because they were all so curious and excited about the visitors – and it was great fun to have them crowded around and imitating every gesture I was making and repeating every word I was saying.
That first day in Goz Amer, we also walked through the camp and saw a preschool kiosk (which is basically a round concrete platform underneath a straw roof), as well as a primary school located between the two newest blocks (which house the newest refugee arrivals). This primary school currently has classrooms constructed of plastic sheeting.
The next day, we began our in-depth training of our Little Ripples assessment team, whose members I had met the day before for the first time. We continued our training yesterday, and by the time we sent the team members home I felt confident of their capabilities and very proud of their hard work. We still have another day-and-a-half of training, but I am happy to have such a strong assessment team, and one that we can trust to do accurate assessments while we are not here.
The day second day we went to Goz Amer, we witnessed the immediate aftermath of a fire that burned 33 homes. That was a difficult sight, especially when we saw the pile of burned sorghum that was unable to be salvaged. All I could think was, “the food, the food that they already have so little of…” Although it was inspiring to learn how tons of people come out and help put out a fire when there is one, I couldn’t help but notice the absence of services that we at home have: Where was the fire department? Where were the ambulances and the police cars? These are luxuries not found in refugee camps. The only concrete assistance they receive is from themselves. There seems to be a problem if fires like the one we saw are not an uncommon occurrence in these camps. Perhaps one fire wouldn’t raze such a high number of homes if the homes weren’t so crowded and smushed together.
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