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Welcome to the second Techfugees newsletter! It will update you on developments from the Techfugees community and on the latest news on tech solutions for refugees and the NGOs that work with them. To submit any updates or content to be considered for the next newsletter, please email: newsletter@techfugees.com

Techfugees far and wide...


Next week, from March 20-24, Techfugees founder Mike Butcher is participating in a project run by UNICEF in Lebanon. While there, Mike will be reporting on tech solutions for refugees for TechCrunch, while also gathering key information for Techfugees, and doing what he can to test tech solutions ‘in the field'. If you need to reach out to him about this, you can email mike@techfugees.com. Here is more information:
• UNICEF Lebanon is bringing together local youth organizations, the startup community, and international experts in Beirut to design a “Youth Innovation Program”​ to boost the entrepreneurial talent of Syrian, Palestinian and and Lebanese youth living in Lebanon. By the end of 2016, UNICEF aims to reach 15,000 adolescents and youth to provide them with entrepreneurial training, the opportunity to develop their own ventures and access to the Lebanese startup ecosystem. The vision is to empower youth to realize their role as agents of social change, building their knowledge and skills, professional readiness and resilience along the way. The workshop will involve immersion in the field in Bekaa and Baalbek to discover key insights and identify main barriers, followed by 1.5 days co­-designing solutions and partnerships. The outcome will be concrete next steps of an Action Plan to be led by UNICEF. The Bekaa Valley is one of the main agricultural areas of Lebanon and is next to the Syrian border, roughly half way between Damascus and Beirut. It is now home to thousands of displaced people, with the nation hosting well over a million Syrian refugees.

Techfugees US:
Andlib is heading Techfugees US and working on building a core team out of San Fransisco. This Spring Techfugees will host its first SF conference! We are inviting technology companies, NGOs and corporations to have a dialogue on effective ways to collaborate at a global scale when addressing solutions for refugees. To find out more about our chapters in the US, or to get involved, please email andlib@techfugees.com

Techfugees France - An update from the first Techfugees Hackathon in Paris! 
Some 150 tech developers, refugees, business experts and social entrepreneurs assembled at Parisian coding school LeWagon last weekend for the first Techfugees hackathon held in Paris.11 teams worked throughout the weekend to come up with tech-based solutions to help refugees upon their arrival in France…the results were pretty exciting !
 
The winning project: "Textfugees," tackles the issue of refugees' lack of Internet access. It was created by seven entrepreneurs and developers who met during the hackathon. Some had been talking with refugees and realised that most of them didn't have access to the Internet and figured texting would be a good solution. Textfugees is a tool that allows refugees to enter minimal amounts of personal information -- name, phone number, location, refugee or asylum status -- by text message. This information is shared with non-profits seeking to assist in the resettlement process, and they can then communicate with refugees via text message…in up to 40 languages(!).
 
During the hackathon, several non-profits including Action Emploi Refugiés and Singa decided to sign on to make use of the technology, which went live during the weekend. 
The ten other projects that were pitched in front of the Jury were :
  • EMigreat, a website to connect refugees and Parisians according to expertise, skills and needs; 
  • Refugenius, a LinkedIn for refugees ; 
  • AllAround, an app on which refugees can ask questions and seek for assistance ;
  • SunBeam4Refugees, a crowdfunding platform to support refugee projects and  connect refugees with donors
  • Folomi, an app to simplify administrative procedures for refugees 
  • MigraNews, a dedicated media for refugees in several languages
  • JustHelp, a requirement mapping website showing what is most needed by refugees in real time
  • NoWall, a solution to connect refugees with volunteer translators
  • RefuJob, a website with videos and articles giving tips to help refugees in their search for a job
  • Job4Talent, a website that functions as a LinkedIn for refugees, and JustHelp, an online food and product ordering platform for charities
The winners get the opportunity to spend six months refining their project with SINGA, one of France's major refugee and asylum-seeker support organizations. They also receive a trip to London to present the project to the entire Techfugees team and a coaching seminar with LearnAssembly, a French entrepreneur and coding school.

Techfugees Italy:
After the success of the first hackathon in October 2015, the Italian Techfugees team are working on the next hackathon in partnership with the non profit organisation INTERSOS (the UN recognised organisation for Italy with advisory status within the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The hackathon will take place over the weekend of the 20th-21st May in Torino, and will bring together a hundred people to collaborate on solutions for the migrant crisis. This time we are going to focus on one specific goal, disrupt the "solidarity sms" that is the main source of fast funds for non profits during times of unpredicted crisis. We believe simple APIs and new solutions in payments as well as gaming technology can help to improve the currently used sms bringing faster and more funds to the agencies in the field. This also helps people donate with more consciousness of what their funds will be devoted to. Stay tuned for updates…

 

Project updates...

The Worldwide Tribe have been working on a number of different projects to support refugees affected by this crisis, we caught up with them to hear what they’ve been up to:
  • “We have been developing our WiFI project in the Jungle camp in Calais, improving the stability of the connection and ensuring it is a sustainable model. It has been a huge support in the communication of the events happening in Calais recently, and has enabled people to report directly, through social media, in real-time. We will be expanding this project to the Pikpa camp in Lesvos over the coming weeks, providing a vital connection to refugees reaching Europe so they can let their families know that they are safe, and plan their next movements.”
  • “Also in Greece, we are addressing the desperate situation at Idomeni, a transit camp for 1,500 that has seen 14,000 refugees stranded because of border closures. We have funded the purchase of a van which will deliver food to the thousands of refugees in the area who have nowhere to go.”
  • “In Calais, we are working with the School Bus Project, a fantastic group of educators who have created an innovative model for location-independent lessons. Everything needed for the lesson fits in a backpack, meaning they can be taken absolutely anywhere! Their lessons are accessible for everyone and really work to develop the necessary skills for refugees to be able to continue their personal development and build their lives.”
 
EmpowerHack is back in April with two hackathons focusing on the health challenges faced by women and girl refugees. Challenges are put forward by frontline NGOs working with refugees and have a chance to enter a volunteer-run accelerator afterwards. Sign up to London (8-10 April bit.ly/empowerhackldn) and Amsterdam (22-24th April http://bit.ly/1UxBaUD)

URBAN REFUGEES, a start-up NGO whose team was amongst speakers of the London and then Paris Techfugees Hackathons, is launching its first field program,  integrating digital solutions dedicated to supporting refugee self-help groups. A crowdfunding campaign started a few days ago to finance this project: please support it!
 
The Toolbox is a new platform for tools aiding social change. They aim to transform the crowd noise that dominates the web today, into effective communities of action. Toolbox aim to connect disparate individuals, organizations and networks into a powerful global community of advocates working for social good. They have complied a list of apps which are aiding the refugee crisis. You can find out more information on them here: https://www.thetoolbox.org/roundups/1161-apps-aiding-the-refugee-crisis

Press

We’ve been in the news again! Have a read of our coverage. 
 
Thanks for reading! Please send any feedback on what you would like to see in the next newsletter or comments to: newsletter@techfugees.com
 

Contact Techfugees:

You can find out more information on any of your local chapters, by contacting the organisers listed below:
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If you wish to become a Techfugees sponsor or partner, please contact petra@techfugees.com
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