Little Ripples

Little Ripples is a comprehensive early childhood education program, specifically designed for young children in Darfur refugee camps in Eastern Chad. Through an innovative curriculum, the program aims to provide education and hope to a community exposed to severe trauma, as well as offer a safe environment for young children in the camps.
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Year launched: 
Launch country: 

CEI Plus Status

Program Results Status
Monitoring and Evaluation Reporting
Primary Approach: 
Education level (ISCED): 

Location Data

Goz Amer and Djabal Refugee camps
Additional country(ies) of operation: 
Program Description: 

Little Ripples is a comprehensive early childhood development program implemented in Darfur refugee camps by i-ACT, in partnership with the Jesuit Refugee Service and the refugee community. More than a decade after the start of the Darfur conflict in Sudan, hundreds of thousands of people remain in refugee camps across the border, in Eastern Chad. In Goz Amer and Djabal camps, where i-ACT intervenes, about 7,500 children aged between 3 and 5 years old live without proper care. In an environment with such a lack of resources, parents are forced to leave home every day to find the necessities of living, and children are very often left to themselves. This prevents older siblings — especially girls — from attending school to watch the youngest children, creating a “ripple effect of negativity” across the camp. As importantly, children who are left alone are exposed to life-threatening dangers — from unknowingly starting a fire to falling into the river.

Through the Little Ripples program, i-ACT and partners provide a safe environment for children to thrive, offering them a shelter, an appropriate meal and daily care. Building upon the findings on early childhood education’s key role in a child’s development, the program works toward preparing students for primary school; while taking into account the specific challenges of a community exposed to severe trauma such as the Darfuri refugee community. As no preschools exist in Goz Amer and Djabal, children usually start primary education unprepared, speaking one of the six different languages in the camps, thus putting additional pressure on teachers. To help reduce the burden on them, i-ACT partnered with the community to build a curriculum tailored specifically for the children in Darfur, encompassing their culture and focusing on trauma-healing and peace-building. Little Ripples provides a space and curriculum framework that the trained woman refugees fill in with their own cultural knowledge. Children take part of group activities with a focus on learning through play. Through a comprehensive approach, Little Ripples also ensures that children are properly fed and keeps a close watch on their physical and mental health, as well as their cognitive development. Little Ripples preschools are the main shelter for children during the day, which enhances the importance of having an integrated program that takes into account education, nutrition, and physical and emotional health, as well as water and sanitation.

To reach the goal of building facilities for 7,500 children across the two camps, i-ACT and partners first run a pilot program, serving approximately 400 children. The team built a pre-school with six classrooms, an office, supply rooms and sanitary facilities. i-ACT hired and trained refugee teachers (women aged between 16 and 26) and implemented a volunteer system for future development. Involving refugee parents and the larger community is at the heart of the program, as the goal is to create curricula adapted to the community’s culture and needs. In 2015, the program will implement in-home schools, the “Little Ripples Ponds,” to reach more children in a time-effective manner.

The Little Ripples program takes its name from the ripple effect of sending children to preschool spreading throughout the community. The program will indeed impact older siblings who will be able to go to school instead of tending to the youngest, and the trauma-healing and peace-building efforts at Little Ripples schools will impact the future of the refugee community. 

Highlighting Innovation: 
Community-specific curricula and in-home preschools (the Little Ripples Ponds)
Key Challenges: 
Very high demand for early education in the refugee camps