The Initial Assessment of the Ideas Box in Burundi

Just a month and a half after their opening, there have been more than 1000 users recorded for both of the Ideas Box kits deployed in Burundi. It is clear that the refugees are not indifferent towards this new kind of device. Benjamin, our Country Coordinator in Burundi, says:

"It is often difficult to mobilize refugees and get them to engage in activities offered by humanitarian organizations. The Ideas Box has proved it to be otherwise. Its usage is high: refugees of all ages, men and women, school-age children, elders and mothers. All of which have many expectations and demands. This is a surprising situation, even for organizations that were already present before the arrival of the Ideas Box!"

 

An Ideas Box can accommodate up to 70 people simultaneously. Benjamin describes a typical day of the Ideas Box in the camp of Musasa:

 

“Thirty 10-year old children who laugh enthusiastically in front of the cartoon “Kirikou”; two 50-year olds who discover the tablets; men who come in daily to read about the history of the Congo; students who come 2 hours per day to take notes and prepare for their classes; young girls who spend their day reading books and watching at videos; 4th graders who come together after school to go work on their grammar or their African geography with great concentration…and all the other hundred of refugees who come and observe with curiosity…the refugees have no difficulty taking ownership of the Ideas Box”.

4 pm: it is the end of the day. Facilitators can finally breathe after having stringed together activities, the registration of new users, covering the books or providing maintenance to generator that allows the Box to run independently from other energy sources.

 

The activities that are offered daily to the users of the Ideas Box are very successful and provide them ideas to further improve the device. The selection of books, for example: while the refugees are primarily French and Swahili speakers, English books are increasingly in demand, and so are comics, detective novels and books on the history of their homeland—the Congo. Not to mention the suggestions of other humanitarian organizations working in the camps, like the African Humanitarian Aid association that deals with the health center: "We need general medicine books to encourage vocations in the camp!” says one of the volunteers.

 

These news from the field encourage us and help us prepare future deployments, starting with a 3rd Ideas Box in the camp of Bwagiriza!