89.1 WEMU

Ann Arbor Woman Has "Big Ambitions" While Teaching Educational Skills To Children In West Africa

Nov 27, 2019

Sarah Strader of "Two Rabbits"
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

Sarah Strader from Ann Arbor has been teaching reading and preschool skills to children in West Africa for 10-years now.  She joins WEMU's Lisa Barry to update us on the success of her nonprofit "Two Rabbits" and how she is making a global, educational impact.

The Story of Two Rabbits

Sarah Strader with her Two Rabbits friends.
Credit Sarah Strader

This is a story that began in 2011 when Sarah Strader, a college student from Ann Arbor, with a goal to do good in the world, learned of a population whose way of life for thousands of years in the forests of west Africa is being threatened by decades of mining and logging.  Marginalized by their government, their ability to advocate for themselves has been confounded by problems accessing the education system.

There is a saying that if you chase two rabbits at once, they will both get away.

After a year of research, curriculum design, securing a local partner, and teacher training, Chasing Two Rabbits at Once was born, and children in ten villages in the forests of Cameroon happily learn pre-school lessons, taught Sesame Street-style in their native tongue.  Delivered via low-cost hand-crank MP3 players, they now have access to education, while also learning their hunter-gatherer skills, thus ‘chasing two rabbits at once’.

Sarah Strader
Credit Sarah Strader

Three years of data tracking these children into primary school bears witness to the success of the program. Chasing Two Rabbits received a major grant from Saving Brains to double the number of pre-schools, and a two-year fellowship from Echoing Green aimed at making the program self-sustaining.

Now the government of Cameroon plans to extend World Bank funding to community pre-schools.  The Two Rabbits program is a perfect fit, and is working diligently to be eligible for this exciting development.

Two Rabbits Cultural Exchange Partnership

Sarah Strader and a student with Two Rabbits.
Credit Sarah Strader

The Cultural Exchange Partnership creates relationships of learning and collaboration between children and communities in the greater Ann Arbor area, and where Two Rabbits works in Cameroon.  Our goals are to:

  1. Create local awareness of the global issues that Two Rabbits works to address, including early childhood development, cultural preservation, environmental conservation, indigenous rights, and community empowerment;
  2. Build cultural connection between communities in Ann Arbor and Eastern Cameroon to build mutual understanding, caring, and learning.​

Get involved

Two Rabbits kids.
Credit Sarah Strader

Want to be a part of the partnership?  This is a unique opportunity to connect with communities across the world. We are just getting off the ground, and would love you to join us.  Here are some ways you can get involved:

  1. Host a presentation from our team about life in hunter-gatherer communities in Cameroon.
  2. Start a pen pal program with kids or youth to exchange with our teachers and students.
  3. Host a workshop to create children’s stories like we do, and share your stories with our students.
  4. Start a video about “village life” in Ann Arbor and Eastern Cameroon to get to know our communities.

Learn more

Want to find out more?  Visit our website at www.chasingtworabbits.org to see pictures of our work and read about what we do.  Contact Barbara Tucker at momtuck@gmail.com to learn more about how you can get involved.

"Chasing Two Rabbits at Once: Education for Children in Cameroon"
Credit Ann Arbor District Library / aadl.org

"Chasing Two Rabbits at Once: Education for Children in Cameroon" at the Ann Arbor District Library

Ann Arbor native Sarah Strader describes 10 years of firsthand experience living and working with the Baka, an indigenous hunter-gatherer group in Cameroon in West Africa.  Learn about hunter-gatherer societies in the 21st century, and efforts to help Baka children “chase two rabbits at once” - learn survival in the forest, and receive formal schooling - and how marginalized communities can drive solutions to the challenges they face.  The presentation will touch on child development, anthropology, and social justice.

The event takes place at the Westgate branch of the Ann Arbor District Library on Monday, December 2 from 7-8:30 PM.  For all of the details, click here

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU today to keep your community NPR station thriving.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu