- Published: Thursday, 26 June 2014 14:44
Since arriving in early 2014 to the Musasa refugee camp in Burundi, the Ideas Box has turned around the lives of refugee populations residing in the camp. Ideas Box facilitators are at the center of this change by helping refugees learn how to handle the equipment available to them and to discover all the contents of the library. These facilitators have shared their experiences with the Ideas Box.
The Ideas Box has aroused great interest among the refugees living in the Musasa camp. Ideas Box facilitator Célestin Munyamahoro reflected on the massive support of refugees, saying, "[The Ideas Box] was warmly welcomed by the camp because many signed up immediately and come every day to participate in the organized activities put on by the Box." Computer facilitator William Mwenabatu Meni stated, "The Ideas Box has a large fan base because it appeals to a wide range of people."
This common interest is the reason for the creation of the Ideas Box. "The Ideas Box has offered new knowledge to people who have or have not attended school," claims Munyamahoro, "It's for men, women, adults, and children without any distinction".
The diversity of content in the Ideas Box allows children and adults to learn about computers and literature. "The computer module provides basic computer concepts," explains Meni, "the participants are taught how to navigate the tablets and e-readers. They also learn how to connect the tablets to the wireless internet to browse for information and watch videos. The library module contains books from various cultures that are written in different languages. We are able to read, discover, and learn new things." Meni continues, "The Ideas Box's diversified content encourages creativity, allowing creative and talented children to let their imaginations soar".
The facilitators' testimonies can measure the progress made by refugees in their access to information. Hygienic coordinator Espérance Mukobwajana describes what it was like before the Ideas Box and its effect on the camp. "Everyone living here used to just meander around the camp without doing anything important," laments Mukobwajana, "but now with the Ideas Box, they can go read and do things that are productive. There are many who haven't even touched a computer before that now have the opportunity to use it to learn. We were cut off from the rest of the world, but now we will be informed of what is going on, as well as learn about what happened in the history books that we find in the Box".
The facilitators have come a long way since the arrival of the Ideas Box. Meni, who used to not even know what a tablet was, is now the camp computer facilitator. "For me to become certified in ICDL (computer training), it was the first time I had ever touched and used a tablet and e-reader. They were tools that I had never used before. But thanks to this project, I now have the experience and mastery of how to use them." Mukobwajana had an experience from the project that touched her in a patriotic way. "I read a book on the life of Patrice Lumumba and it sparked something in me. Now I know the history of my country and I feel like a true patriot."
These facilitators take their jobs to heart. Mukobwajana sums this commitment up in one sentence, "[We must] educate others so they can come and enjoy the wealth we find in the Ideas Box".