In 2015 I spoke with Moses, a refugee in Kakuma Refugee Camp (Kenya). I promised him to help to raise the bar of education in the camp. The camp has 180,000 refugees who fled from war and hunger in Sudan, Burundi, Somalia and other African countries. There are schools and their classroom are crowded with up to 200 students. Only 1 in 10 has pens or textbooks.
I decided to ship my laptop to the camp. I asked American students to develop a solar suitcase which provides free electricity and I was able to secure an Internet connection. I was now able to teach the refugees through Skype. Other teachers were able to share their passion to and within 1 year we had more than 100 teachers teaching through Skype. Then the laptop was stolen. I had to start from scratch. Throughout the next year more laptops would be shipped, partnerships would be set up and in 2020 we even built 2 carbon neutral schools with solar power and 100 laptops.
I as able to visit the camp for the very first time and meet all of the refugees I had been working with for years. The project was covered by a Hollywood crew who made a documentary "Heroes for the Planet". We have 2 refugee consultants who are facilitating and teaching. Thanks to our own schools all students from neighbouring schoos have been able to have access to multimedia. We rolled out many initiatives: teaching sign language, teaching young adults - whgo never used laptops before - to code and create websites in only 6 weeks, training teachers and of course our virtual interactions with teachers and global students. We started to learn that there was a growing appreciation between the refugees and global students. This became our way to fight polarisation.
In 2020 our project was called to be one of the 10 schools globally defining the future of education, by World Economic Forum. The project was described in research and several books. But most importantly, it changed mindset of many students and improved live of several people. Our Refugee Consultant was accepted at Berkely university and recently spoke at the UN where he met Prince Harry. Another student went to Nairobi University to teach IT so he can become one of our teachers in the future. For this project we have an official partnership with UNHCR. The project is run by a Belgian NGO "Innovation Lab Schools vzw". It is sponsored by OVWB Belgium.
Check my TED talk "When education tastes sweeter than winning the lottery" about the project.
Heroes for the planet trailer:
More info about documentary Heroes for the Planet
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