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Every child deserves an Education

Project Kakuma
Koen Timmers
by Koen Timmers
Educator - Author - Keynote speaker - Global Teacher Prize 2017 finalist

How Project Kakuma began

Project kakuma

In April 2015 I had an emotional Skype call with Moses, an outreach assistant in Kakuma Refugee camp. He asked me to help him to increase the level of education in the camp and I promised to do regular Skype calls with the refugee students.
Kakuma houses 200,000 refugees from Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Congo, Burundi, etc. People who fled from war and hunger. During a first call I taught the Kakuma teachers how to use Skype. During the following weeks me and some other teachers (Kurt, Joao, Pernille, Ovi) taught the refugees Math, Science, Geography, Art and English.
We soon discovered we were naive to think having a Skype call with the camp was going to be as easy as having a call with friends and family. The Kakuma schools have very little resources: no power supply, unsufficient furniture and a textbook ratio of 1:10 students. The classroom houses up to 150 students all taking a look at one single small laptop screen, brought by Moses who hosted the call. 

We teach these refugee students via Skype. Apart from offering knowlegde, we are also unlocking their world since they are locked in this refugee camp.

Educating refugees via Skype

I decided to bring our little project to another level. I sent my personal laptop to Nairobi. Because it's forbidden to send packages directly to the camp I searched for and found a Kenyan teacher, David, who transported my laptop to the camp (a 500 miles trip on a very bumpy road). The custom clearance costs were nearly as high as the cost of the laptop itself. The poor internet connection was another issue which needed to be solved. Teaching one hour soon resulted in 2 hours of waiting until we managed to create a connection. I started up a crowd funding project to collect money to buy and ship devices and text books. I also created a website: I also created a game "Jump to Kakuma" (iOS and Windows) to collect money. 

The Kakuma schools have very little resources: no power supply, unsufficient furniture, a textbook ratio of 1:10 students

Help us to continue offering education to the refugees:


Unlocking their world

Although the funds were very limited, we were able to ship a laptop, projector and power generator. But we needed to find partners in the camp willing to host the Skype calls and so I found Sixtus who is employed by FilmAid Kenya. He hosts all Skype calls in the Kakuma schools. For the moment 5 schools are dedicated to Project Kakuma. I also managed to find 6 ambassadors in each continent willing to help finding for teachers in their area. And so we are now about 100 global teachers teaching the Kakuma kids on daily base. Please remind that the Kakuma students are locked in the camp. By teaching them - not only we offer them knowledge - we are also unlocking their world by talking about our cultures, habits, sports and just... showing that we care about them. Showing that they matter. We offer them knowledge but maybe even more important... empathy! And the "global students" get another perspective into what's it be like being a refugee. 

During the skype-a-thon, a two daily event we managed to set up 24 global Skype calls with the refugees. During 2 days each half an hour the Kakuma students were educated by teachers from New Zealand, USA, Israel, Belgium, Hong Kong, Scotland, Austria, Spain, Brazil, Portugal, Saoudi Arabia, Denmark, India, the Philippines, etc. Take a look at some pictures.


Robot cars and Text books

An Indian teacher Vineeta sent 5 kits of robot cars to the Kakuma students so they can now practice while she teaches about robot cars. Kelli collected text books in the US. She recently sent these books to the camp to increase the textbook ratio. Vicent (Spain) taught physical education via Skype and Joao (Portugal) art.

Does it matter? 

Yes this projects matters. People who are educated most make the best chance to be sent to the US, Canada or Australia to have a better life. One of the Kakuma teachers - Abdul - now lives in Georgia (US). While he was in Kakuma we had several Skype calls with him. He now teaches his students via Skype from time to time. 


A brief impression of a Skype lesson


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