Libraries Without Borders had the privilege of having His Excellency Mr. Gerrit van Rossum, the French Ambassador to Burundi, visit the Musasa Refugee Camp in the N'Gozi province where he was able to get a tour of the Ideas Box.
On June 4th, the Ambassador was accompanied by a small staff of French delegates and was hosted by a coordinator from Burundi's National Office of Protection of Refugees and the Stateless (ONPRA), the Burundi Governor's chief advisor, and a local UNHCR representative. The Ambassador was able to see and learn about the work done for the past several weeks by LWB in promoting access to culture, books, and new technology for the refugee population.
Maurice, LWB's head coordinator of the Ideas Box in Musasa, presented each unit of the box, the function and usefulness of the tablets and e-readers, and the variety of books. The Ambassador praised the quality of the Ideas Box and its remarkable craftsmanship by designer Philippe Starck, the mass selection of digital media, and content for all ages, wants, and needs.
Serendipitously, the Ideas Box also this week hosted an exhibition on sustainable energy made available by the Institut Français. The exhibition consisted of a dozen informative panels and models. At the event, Ambassador van Rossum encouraged partnerships between LWB and the Coopération Française in the service of refugees and the promotion of culture and information.
Finally, the French delegation was able to visit the Musasa refugee camp and see the work done by the ensemble of partners, including professional training programs by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a health center by the African Humanitarian Action (AHA), and the management of the camp by ONPRA. Ambassador van Rossum also praised the role UNHCR has played in the functionality of the camp.
Benjamin, LWB's Burundi desk coordinator, emphasized the importance of this official visit. He also commended the French government for their support of the Ideas Box project since its conception, and the French Embassy in Burundi for being an vital partner in the success of upcoming LWB projects in the African Great Lakes region.