We first visited the Dzaleka refugee camp in March 2018 during the rainy season, which ultimately proved to be auspicious. The camp’s red dirt streets were muddy and we straddled drainage ditches partially filled with water, as our guide Toussaint Buunda led us to the Integrity Church school deep in the camp. Pastor Desire and other school leaders welcomed us warmly and we sat cozily together in the small administrative office. We described Imagine’s history, hopes, and goals and listened to their own. Soon the skies opened and a torrential rain began. We moved closer to each other as cascades of water fell through several openings in the roof. As time passed, Susan pulled out her iPad to share photos of children using the tablet curriculum in other schools. We conversed fluidly in both English and French. Two or three hours passed quickly and as the rain subsided we reluctantly stood to leave. We knew we had made strong, early bonds with a community that shared the same bold vision for their children. Our good-byes were temporary. We would return soon to begin working together.
After dozens of WhatsApp messages and several additional meetings in Dzaleka with Imagine and community members, we launched the Integrity pilot in April 2019. Now hundreds of children are participating in the program.