Requiem for Aleppo – a roaring success

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Picture credit: @mikebutcher
London, Wednesday 26th April.

Sunday evening, saw the world premiere of David Cazalet’s composition Requiem for Aleppo, at Sadler’s Wells in central London. The contemporary dance work brought together twelve dancers from around the world, to express their solidarity with the people of Aleppo and Syria through the medium of dance.

The Techfugees team were in attendance, along with the other charity partner, Syria Relief, packed into Sadler’s Wells in central London with 1,500 attendees. The event was also being streamed live around the globe, to fourteen of our local chapters.

If you missed the event, you can watch a replay on our YouTube channel: 

 

“Techfugees was proud to partner with Syria Relief and Requiem for Aleppo to help deliver the premiere at Sadler’s Wells. It is always very satisfying to see the arts- in this case, dance and music- bridging political divides to unite us under a common purpose. The performance itself was breathtaking, with David Cazalet’s rousing score, beautiful set design, and, of course, powerful choreography from Jason Mabana. This is just the first step: we hope that Requiem for Aleppo will be able to tour, and continue to raise money to support educational projects in Syria.” – Tom Hayton, Creative Director, Techfugees

 

‘’Perhaps simple technological tweaks can dissolve this distance and give new meaning to the well-intentioned phrase ‘expression of solidarity’? Techfugees, a volunteer charity of technology experts, punctured the proscenium arch through a live-stream broadcast of Requiem for Aleppo.’’ – The Independent

“It was a humbling to have displaced Syrians help us organise the screenings across the world and share accounts with us. I was also moved by the number of citizens from Aleppo who attended the event, and speaking to them afterwards reinforced the amount of work that is left to do. The evening ended on a happy note, with a touching speech from our friend, Ahmad Al-Rashid, who spoke of rebuilding Aleppo as a place of love, history and coexistence.” – Josephine Goube, CEO, Techfugees

“Migration Hub Network was proud to partner with Techfugees to host a screening in Berlin. The event brought together around 40 members of our community and public, including locals, internationals and Syrians living in Berlin, to watch the performance and gather together to express solidarity for the people of Syria. The audience was visibly moved from the performance and our discussions touched on how powerful, beautiful but also hopeful the performance was. Instead of stigmatising Aleppo merely as a conflict zone, it has to be appreciated for its cultural wealth and beauty. Before the screening, we connected via an audio-immersive Shared Studios Portal to a refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq with the purpose to enable personal encounters and highlight the human faces of conflicts. We interacted and discussed with the residents about Requiem for Aleppo and the importance to build connections and stand together in solidarity for the victims of conflict. We also used the occasion to support the work of REFUEAT, a food bike working with refugees, giving the participants the opportunity to also enjoy delicious Arabic street food.” – Laura Kangas

“I am so humbled to be part of the community screening the Requiem from Aleppo this week. Creating a common ground around art send such a strong message. The 12 dancers were sad, powerful and beautiful, it woke feelings of compassion amongst the audience Oslo. It is initiatives like this that truly will drive us toward more peace and justice in this world”. – Ida Faldbakken, who organised Oslo screening.

Screenings were also shown across:

  • Beirut
  • Bonn
  • Budapest
  • Dublin
  • Frameries
  • Istanbul
  • London
  • New York
  • Paris

Techfugees is a social enterprise mobilising the international tech community to respond to the refugee situation. Techfugees organises conferences, workshops and hackathons around the world in an effort to supply a pool of tech solutions and tech talent to NGOs working with refugees, and refugees themselves.

Roma Hackathon

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On the 31st of March and 1st of April the Italy Chapter of Techfugees will be hosting its third hackaton, this time in collaboration with Unicef and Facebook that have come together to engage a community of tech developers into building solutions for the refugee community. The brief of this hackaton is all about the overcoming of cultural barriers, the better flow of information to migrants but also about them to communities to foster integration initiatives. The developers will be able to code on the suite of Facebook APIs that include integrations with multiple facebook products such as social plugins or messenger chatbots.

The winners of the hackaton will receive from Facebook amazing prizes that include:
  • A trip to one of Facebook offices in Europe, so that the winners can spend some time on their product with facebook developers
  • Access to the FBStart program that offers a number of advantages for startups including credits for facebook ads.
The Rome Techfugees hackaton is supported by LUISS ENLABS, incubator of startups in Rome, Codemotion, the largest technical conference in Italy and Europe with a network of over 40,000 developers, and Deliveroo, Europe’s food delivery excellence.

Techfugees Unconference on coding courses for refugees on March 22nd

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On March 22nd, Techfugees and RediSchool are organising an unconference in the Paris office of Makesense. The event is for the representatives of coding schools in North America, Europe and the Middle East who provide courses specifically to refugees and internally displaced people.

The unconference aims to gather this new generation of leaders to share their learnings and failures in an intimate setting and discuss how we can support or collaborate better together to the cause of refugee access to tech education.

Students of that course are welcome to join us at the end of the day.

The day after, most participants will present their findings at UNESCO’s Bootcamp Conference on coding courses for refugees.

Update:

We have confirmed the participation of the following Schools: RediSchool, RE-Coded, RBK Jordan, Simplon, Integrify.

Follow the event notes live here.

Tickets for the event are now sold out – but you can add yourself to the Techfugees Mailing list – and follow the blog to learn about future similar events.

Techfugees France: Refuhelp wins Startup Weekend Refugees

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Techfugees France partnered with Startup Weekend Paris, Paypal France, Liberté Living Lab and IWD together to organise an event bringing students, entrepreneurs, asylum seekers, refugees and NGO’s to create solutions for refugees.

The event brought more than 100 people, one out of two being an asylum seeker or refugee; and more than half of them having coding skills themselves. 10 teams formed over the weekend and pitched 10 projects that can facilitate refugees access to employment, education and dignity – from IoT Teddy Bears to provide information to camp managers on the health of children, to chatbots facilitating the access to information on administrative steps to access services.

The winning team, RefuHelp, a team of seven refugee coders, was awarded with a three month desks space at Liberte Living Lab, the new civic tech incubator located in the center of Paris Silicon Sentier, and providing with a three month mentoring support from PayPal, the Platinium sponsor of the event that will go continue to support the development of their product.

Read more on the event from Forbes / Les Echos / Happy Project / France 24.

Here a quick recap of the winning teams of event

“Coding languages are now the new latin” , Dadou Moano, refugee coder at Simplon and leader of the Refuhelp team. [Video Twitter ici]

The winning team Refuhelp, made of 7 refugee coders from three different countries of Africa, met at Simplon, a coding class, a few months ago. They pitched a new way of providing information to refugees – an intuitive and interactive platform that follows users according to the information they read, personalizes the experience for him/her and uses minimal text. The members of the team having been in the situation before – trying to find info on where to sleep, where to find food, how to protect oneself from the cold and where to find employment – decided that it was essential to rethink the way most information is displayed at the moment – and are looking into partnering with organisations that currently provide that information.

 

“Techfugees is made of hacks with innovative tech and some simple low tech hacks supporting existing refugee tech projects or activities done by NGOs on the ground. We are not solutionists!”  Joséphine Goube, CEO Techfugees.

The second prize went out to a mobile app called “Bazaar”. It solves the very concrete challenge of food distribution and hygiene products in a refugee camp. The team worked over the weekend with Joel, a representative of Elpida, an NGO having built and managing a refugee camp in Greece. The team is going to fly to Thessaloniki next to deploy the mobile interface in Elpída Home. The camp, made of 150 people is soon to expand to receive 500 more – and as such the app comes at the right time to be tested to prepare the scaling of distribution operations.

“Learning French is not only learning a language, it’s also opening yourself to another life, another culture, and new friends”, Nour Allazkani, team leader of Comprendre Pour Apprendre (Understand To Learn)

The Jury’s special prize went for CPA (Comprendre Pour Apprendre), a project led by a Franco-Syrian team formed on the weekend. It was led by 23 year old Syrian refugee Nour, who did not speak a word of French a year ago when he arrived in France. The project is addressing a very concrete need to access culture and a way to educate and train oneself via learning french.

CPA puts refugees, volunteers and NGOs in touch via an app, that uses geo-localisation, timings and level of french.

Find out more about the other projects that were built over the weekend on Techfugees France Devpost

Thanks to our partners

Paypal France, platinium sponsor who financially supported the event, mentored teams throughout the whole weekend, took part in the Jury and offered a three month mentorship to the winning team; to IDW, Gold sponsor, who financially supported the weekend and donated its developers to support teams over the weekend, and to the many grassroot NGOs : Simplon; Happy Project; YBorder; THOT, Singa; Konexio.

Fundraise for Displaced Syrians: Screen Requiem for Aleppo in your city

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Want to raise some money to help displaced people in Syria? Now you can!

Techfugees and Syria Relief are working together with Requiem for Aleppo- an original dance performance that will be shown at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, on 23rd April.

We are live streaming the event, and we want to leverage the power of the internet to raise thousands!

So how can you help?

You can help by organising viewings of the live stream- in your offices, at a local bar, at a university, at home, or even on a beach somewhere!

All you need to do is:

1. Decide where you’d like to do it, getting permission if necessary
2. Email us to let us know where you’re doing it, and how many tickets you want to create
3. We will then create a ‘’ticket’’, purchasable via donation, on eventbrite for the people who attend.
4. Tell as many people as possible, via email, social media, and face to face

On the day, we will send you the private live stream link, so you can watch the performance.

We want people to share pics, video clips, tweets and Facebook posts of their shows, so we can create a real buzz around the event, with the hashtag #requiem4aleppo.

You will need:

-A computer
-A decent internet connection
-(Ideally) a projector (but a big screen would be OK, too)
-Speakers

If you’d like to participate, send an email to: tflive@techfugees.com

Please note you do NOT need a fancy location. We want as many people to participate as possible.

After the event, all the money donated via eventbrite and the ticket sales at Sadler’s Wells will be added up, and we will let you know how your money has been spent to improve the lives of displaced people in Syria!

However, some of you may want to get bigger locations, and even get corporate sponsorship. If so, email tom@techfugees.com to set this up. We have a separate, official document to help set this up.

Thanks!
Tom Hayton, Creative Director, Techfugees

Opening the doors of startups to refugees in Paris

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EU Policy Lab workshop: How can we use tech to help refugees find work?

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By Sue Keogh

How can we use technology to help refugees integrate into the job market? This was the focus of the recent EU Policy Lab workshop on Technology and Refugee Integration, where our CEO Joséphine Goube shared her insights into the work of Techfugees.

Best of the EU Policy Lab expert workshop on Technology and refugee integration, 13 December 2016

Over the past two years, people in the tech community have done an incredible job of trying to offer solutions to the many problems faced by refugees and displaced people. You’ve been fast, reactive and have developed community-led initiatives which have made a massive difference in helping displaced people integrate into new communities.

But there is so much more that can be done to solve the challenges of integration, and the workshop on 13 December 2016 in Brussels was a good opportunity to take stock of the progress we have made and rethink ideas about policies and practices.

Still a relatively new topic for the European Commission, it was a good starting point for a discussion on the ways in which the EU can support social and technological innovation in refugee integration.

It brought together 54 participants – local public authorities, tech entrepreneurs and volunteers, NGOs, researchers, people with refugee experience active in the field, Commission policy makers, and scientists. How can we make the best use of current technologies and what could be done to support and scale-up successful initiatives?

There are a lot of positive factors driving us forward:

  • The desire and ability to quickly innovate and experiment with new tools
  • High public interest in helping find solutions
  • Excitement and energy in a new movement of highly committed individuals and communities

At the same time, a number of issues still need to be properly assessed and tackled.

  • Asylum seekers and refugees are a special group of technology users who need special protection measures. They are vulnerable and their personal data is very sensitive.
  • The challenges of funding, organising different groups who are trying to help, and avoiding duplication in the many different initiatives around the world
  • Coordination and links among refugees, public authorities, research organisations and the private sector
  • We need to ensure the initiatives are effective and sustainable in the long-term.

What happened on the day?

Workshop began with a presentation from Meghan Benton (Migration Policy Institute) of a recent report Digital Humanitarianism: How Tech Entrepreneurs are Supporting Refugee Integration.

This was followed by our CEO Joséphine Goube and Laurent Aujean’s (DG HOME) reflection on the Commission’s Action Plan on the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (including asylum seekers and refugees).

Breakout sessions focused on the role of technology in five main areas, looking at opportunities for collaboration and to develop solutions:

  1. Securing refugee access to education and training
  2. Making it easier for employers to provide decent jobs for refugees and for refugees to access them
  3. Stimulating innovation in the delivery of public services to refugees and local communities
  4. Empowering refugees to support themselves and to become entrepreneurs
  5. Supporting existing civil society organisations

Some interesting ideas were proposed:

  • Using a ‘minimum viable product’ approach to devise a system of impact measurement for tech-driven labour-market integration initiatives
  • Use data to deepen our understanding of the relationship between addressing trauma and successful integration into the labour market
  • Support local socially inclusive initiatives to empower locals and refugees to work together as equals

Next steps

There was a very positive response to this first meeting at the EU Policy Lab, and the Commission is following up on the ideas that would justify their involvement.

For more information please visit the EU Policy Lab website.

#HacktheCamp: The creative marathon to find sustainable solutions to refugee issues in Greece

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By Lida Tsene

After three intensive days of presentations and cooperation with their #HackTheCamp mentors, ten teams of programmers, refugees, designers, social entrepreneurs, humanitarian workers, educators, and artists competed with their proposals during the final phase of the hackathon creative marathon to find sustainable, scalable solutions for refugee issues in Greece.

How can we improve living conditions for refugees? How can they access reliable information on their legal status? What kind of opportunities are available or can be created for refugees? How can we tap into the many skills that moving populations bring with them? How can populations in transit and local populations come closer and develop an intercultural dialogue?

These are some of the challenges that Hack the Camp (#HackTheCamp) attempted to address.

In the first phase of Hack the Camp, which took place October 21-22 at Diplareios School, Athens, more than 70 participants and 30 experts from the fields of education, technology, culture, and humanitarian aid became a dynamic team that worked collaboratively to address the needs of refugees and migrants during this crisis. The contribution of refugees and migrants to offer their skills and experience was significant.

The final Hack the Camp was held on December 2-4, 2016 and was organized by Impact Hub Athens, the Onassis Cultural Center and the U.S. Embassy in Athens in collaboration with two international organisations with extensive experience in organising humanitarian hackathons: Creative Associates from the U.S. and International Alert from Great Britain.

Participants 

  • Autonomous Water Supply
  • Book On The Way
  • Co-Producing The Camp
  • Hopestarter
  • INTERART
  • Match & Teach Me For Integration
  • NativeNet
  • Radio Transit
  • RefWay Αpplication
  • Refergon

Judges

Winners

Team “NativeNet” won the first prize and $10,000 by presenting a smart mobile application that brings together all services available for refugees in Arabic, Farsi, and English. It also includes basic Greek lessons and enables refugees to show off their skills and get in touch with NGOs and other potential employers.

Second prize and $6,000 was awarded to Team “Refergon”, which proposed an easier way for refugees to access the labor market through existing social networks by developing a chatbot. At the same time, in cooperation with NGOs and academic institutions, Refergon will offer training for refugees to acquire business skills.

Refugee participants contributed as members of the NativeNet and Refergon teams.

The “Autonomous Water Supply” team focused on the issue of hygiene, winning third place and $4,000. The team cleverly designed a portable, collapsable sink that improves refugees’ access to clean water, especially vulnerable groups such as women and unaccompanied minors.

Special mention was given to the “EterART” team who proposed a performing arts project for children from different cultures, using their own bodies as percussion instruments.

Prizes

The winning teams will receive mentoring and business incubation support from Impact Hub Athens for the next four months. They also have the option of joining the Microsoft BizSpark program, which provides access to innovative software development tools. The cash prizes and additional services are designed to help the teams put their winning ideas into practice to benefit refugees.

Microsoft actively supported this initiative by furnishing prize money, offering technological and business mentoring groups, and providing software, which contributed to the successful implementation of the Hack the Camp ideas. Intel also provided free technological equipment for participants that will develop hardware solutions. Free localisation services for participants courtesy of Transifex. 

Supporters

Two international organisations with long experience in humanitarian-related hackathons will act as consultants, facilitators and moderators at the events. Creative Associates from the U.S. and International Alert from the UK will be the main facilitators of Hack the Camp.

Microsoft actively supports Hack the Camp by contributing to the monetary prizes, offering technological and entrepreneurial mentoring services to the teams, as well as software and devices, helping towards the success of the initiative.

GFOSS – Open Technologies Alliance within the context of the ongoing collaboration with the Onassis Cultural Center in Athens, actively supports Hack the Camp with demonstrations of open hardware and software while partners of the Open Technologies Alliance will participate in both stages of Hack the Camp and support the participating teams in using collaborative design and programming tools, as well as enable them to share their creations on open collaborative platforms.

Congratulations to the winning teams of the hackathon: NativeNetRefergon and Autonomous Water supply!


You can find photos from Hack the Camp herePhoto Credit: (ɔ) Angel Ballesteros, CC BY-SA

Make sure to also check the Facebook Group and #HackTheCamp on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Catching up with promising startups from Techfugees Australia

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By Annie Parker

With Techfugees chapters located in dozens of cities around the world, there’s a lot happening. We catch up with three of the most promising startups to grow out of Techfugees Australia.

SettleIn

SYD 2015 Winners

 

SettleIn creates psychologically informed goal-setting technology to help newly arrived refugees settle into their new country. Their software is used in case management and psychosocial support, designed to be accessible for every person of a refugee background, regardless of age, language, education or ability.

Over the last six months, SettleIn has formed a partnership with education company Momentum Cloud, and are currently working on a universally accessible design in collaboration with a British graphic designer specialising in designing software for people with disabilities.

In 2017, they aim to complete their first pilot with Settlement Services International (SSI) and STARTTS, two Australian NGOs who resettle refugees in New South Wales. They’ll also be coming to the UK with two versions of the software, along with a professional goal-setting tool aimed at staff.

You can support SettleIn by connecting them to refugee service organisations in the UK. You could also be able to help them find expert pro-bono advice on how to make the software accessible internationally, while maintaining strict safety and security protocols.

Refugee Talent

SYD 2015 runner-up

 

Refugee Talent is a social enterprise platform matching refugees looking for work with relevant vacancies.

The platform was created by Nirary Dacho, a Syrian refugee who arrived in Australia in 2015 with a Masters in Web Science, but still struggled to find suitable employment. After meeting Anna Robson at the Techfugees Sydney hackathon, Refugee Talent was born.

In their first year of operation, Refugee Talent has had more than 300 candidates signed up, along with 100 companies across Australia. The startup has placed dozens of candidates in meaningful employment in both Sydney and Melbourne and assisted all candidates with enhancing their resumes and job readiness workshops.

They’ve also run two ‘speed dating’ events, where 20 companies and 50 refugee candidates have had the chance to take part in multiple job interviews and network with prospective employers.

In 2017, they aim to expand to other states and run more events in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, as well as New Zealand. Refugee Talent is also working on a pilot project with Talent Beyond Boundaries, where companies using the platform can hire highly skilled refugees from overseas.

ArtCrew

SYD Winners 2016

 

ArtCrew is a public art mentorship program and online community for young people with refugee and migrant backgrounds.

The online platform presents monthly topics and articles on current issues within youth refugee communities, based on data and research generated by SSI. Members of the online community are encouraged to respond creatively to these topics.

Each month, 5-10 young people are selected to be a part of an ArtCrew in which they learn design and public art skills from professional artist mentors, and paint murals in the Greater Western Sydney region over a 12-month period.

In late 2016, they developed a strategic partnership with Parramatta Council. The council has been a key supporter of Welcome Walls, our current community public arts campaign which aims to welcome refugees into our communities through the medium of public art.

In the first month of 2017, they secured five sites at which to create large-scale community murals. These murals have been designed through a co-design process with community members from refugee and migrant backgrounds at our first ever community design workshop.

For 2017, their focus is on creating a sustainable business model that enables the public art program to grow and attract the right partners, requiring them to raise around $200,000. They’re also exploring the augmented reality and virtual reality potential of murals and public space in order to make ArtCrew a technologically relevant and innovative business.

Later this year, they aim to develop a working pilot model that can be taken overseas in order to bring ArtCrew to other communities around the world.

Connections on fundraising and how to grow the business overseas would be much appreciated! Take a look at their crowdfunding campaign.

Looking for more info?

Get involved and support your regional Techfugees chapter
Find out more about these three promising startups: SettleIn, Refugee Talent and ArtCrew.


About the author

Annie Parker – Techfugees Sydney, CEO Lighthouse, co-founder muru-D, Chair Code Club Aus, Chair Mahuki.

 

Epic Foundation seeks non-profit and social enterprises: Apply now!

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The Epic Foundation has launched its selection process for 2017. If you’re a leading non-profits and social enterprise, get your application in before the 6 February deadline!

 

The Epic Foundation finances projects relating to tech and refugees, and it has just launched its 2017 selection process. As in past years, their goal is to identify high-impact organisations (NGOs or social enterprises) from around the world that support children and youth.

The successful applicants will be included in Epic’s portfolio of organisations and receive significant financial support.
Who should apply?

Epic’s global selection process identifies leading non-profit organisations and social enterprises. The focus of the selection process is on organisations and their impact, not on specific projects.

They are looking for organisations who are:

  • Working to enhance education, empowerment, health and/or protection
    for children and youth.
  • Based in East Africa, Southeast & East Asia, Europe, India and the United States.

They are also encouraging organisations from other countries to apply so they can add you to their database and identify applicants in advance of the 2018 global selection process.
How can you apply?

Read the application information
Fill in the application form