From Kakuma refugee camp to Techfugees’ Nairobi hackathon: meet Bahana!

After almost four years of growth thanks to our dedicated community, we want to let you know more about some of the amazing people part of it.

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© Bahana Hydrogene

Techfugees: Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Bahana Hydrogene, a refugee from Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. I am a youth advocate with strong commitment to innovative approaches to education and livelihood opportunities for the underserved population, girl’s empowerment and leadership. I was born in DR of Congo in 1995.

Can you remember and tell us the first time you held a technological tool in your hands?

Towards the end of 2013 when I got my first mobile phone that belonged to me completely. This phone did not just help me communicate with my relatives but later in 2015, it becomes my compass, my travel companion to a secure and safe place that is today Kakuma Refugee Camp that I call home. Of course, it was not a big phone or smartphone but it could help me connect to the Internet. Whenever I came to a place I always used it to know where I am and how far was it to my promise land, Kakuma. Technology played a very crucial role throughout my journey.

How did you hear about Techfugees? 

I heard about it from a UNHCR representative in Kakuma!

© Ihub

How have you been engaging with the Techfugees community so far?

I attended the first Techfugees hackathon in Africa held in Nairobi last April.

What did (or does) it change in your life? 

You can not imagine! I could not believe it, the first day of this event. It was my very first time to participate in this kind of event with other people with whom we share the same vision. It was an opportunity for me not only to learn but also to connect with other professionals in my carrier. This event changed many things in my life, it increases my confidence as a human being and my self-esteem that I could be heard and listened to by others despite my refugee status. For me, as a refugee taking part in an event hacking a solution to address a refugee problem was more than inclusion and dignity of the underrepresented and marginalised refugee youth population.

Could you please let us know more about your current project?

I am the Founder and CEO at Solidarity Initiative for Refugees, a community-based organization that helps and mentors young refugees through the provision of skills in ICT, web technologies and app development. I am also an IT coach at Instant Network Schools, a joint program run by UNHCR and the Vodafone Foundation supporting teachers and students to integrate ICT into teaching and learning processes. I strongly believe in the power of technology to enhance quality education and boost youth empowerment and employment to attain sustainable development.

How can our readers help you? What are you looking for now?

I want them to step up with refugees because we, refugees have stepped up. We no longer ask for food, clothes or what’s ever. Of course, we are the beneficiaries of all the aids towards refugees but please nothing should be done without us. We are now asking for equal opportunity to quality education, marketable skills and decent employment. They should see refugees as people they can collaborate and work with to accelerate the progress on sustainable development goals. We know our sufferings, we live them every day, and we know better what we want. So support our initiatives if you really want to make this world a better place for everybody.

A piece of advice to share with someone who considers taking part in the Techfugees community?

Be it staff, volunteer or someone who wants to address refugee issues with tech. Let him know that there is more great honor when you give than when you receive for a good cause. Because at Techfugees its all about touching souls of refugees trough tech and they should know that impacts and changes lives forever.

Some refugees, among whom Bahana, were able to attend Techfugees’ Nairobi hackathon thanks to donations

Do you want to offer a chance to more techies to participate in an upcoming Techfugees hackathon around the world?

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