Traveling to Eastern Chad was unique, to say the least. One flight, one helicopter ride and a short car ride later we arrived to the UNHCR compound. The land is desolate and the sun shines brighter and hotter than anything I’ve experienced. The women and children work all day collecting water, food, wood and other resources to last them until tomorrow, or a few days if they’re lucky. The men build huts and other types of infrastructure to shield them from the blistering sun. I just watch them live their lives, and observe their every move. This way of life is so different than what we’re exposed to.

Today was my first day going to the Goz Amir refugee camp. As soon as we enter the camp, we are greeted with the smiling faces of young children. They love to wave at us. Sometimes they initiate it but most of the time they’re waiting for us to. As soon as my hand goes up, they explode with smiles and hand waves. The women and men are shy at first, but smiles imprint across their faces too as my hand waves at them.

After a few minutes of this, I realized what the excitement was all about. They want to be seen. They want to be noticed. Just a simple hand gesture recognizing them as a person can instill something profoundly positive.

I didn’t want to stop waving today. If something as small as a hand wave can foster even an ounce of joy, imagine the possibilities…

I’m excited to get back to camp Goz Amir tomorrow. We have lots of training to do at Little Ripples and refugees to meet. However, I’m really looking forward to the hand waves.

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