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Training WITH our Friends

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This post was originally posted on iactivism.org as part of i-ACT21 Day 10.

These past four days, Felicia, Oumda, and I have had the pleasure of training a refugee assessment team to measure the impact of Little Ripples. Training has consisted of tediously reviewing each question of the five page survey, teaching how to properly ask each question, correctly record the information, and use the weight and height scales. It’s been a lot, but the team has been doing so well! It’s been a really wonderful experience and I believe that has a lot to do with the participatory training methods we embrace and utilize at i-ACT.

All i-ACT programs are built upon the refugee men and women who seek to serve as leaders in their camp. Therefore, a lot of our time spent in the camps is focused on supporting these individuals in carrying out programs to the best of their ability.

During i-ACT trainings, we do not stand at the front of a classroom and speak while the refugees passively listen. This approach is trainer centered and tends to disregard the learners’ knowledge and experience. Instead, in our participatory training sessions, we sit next to our refugee teammates, often in a circle. As trainers we act as facilitators, providing guidance and information, we give demonstrations and illustrations, but most importantly, we give lots of time for open discussion, and space and opportunity for actively practicing. The participatory method most likely takes more time, but it’s a crucial learning process.

Through this approach, the assessment team has learned new skills, concepts, and interview methods over the past four days. My most proud moments during training have been when I’m able to quietly sit back, watch, and listen as the group works together to better understand each question and method; an iterative process that takes place until every member of the team feels comfortable with each question and skill. I’ve also been heartened by the team’s compassion for their peers. Team members never lose patience or put down their peers for mistakes made or for a lack of understanding or knowledge. If someone has trouble writing their numbers in English, another team member quietly helps them without making a fuss of it. I have so many examples like this one from the past few days, and I’m really glad I’ve been able to observe these gracious moments.

These trainings have also been yet another reminder of the value of education. When we complete training tomorrow, I’ll leave wishing we could offer more.

Check out the photos from our training so far! Let us know what you think!?

With gratitude,

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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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