By Koen Timmers as written on
In April 2015 a dozen global educators had a Skype call with refugees in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. The camp houses 179,000 refugees and 55% are children. It has 30 schools, each containing 20 classrooms. We set up a project in which teachers from around the world would teach the Kakuma students using Skype.
During a second call, I taught a group of 10 Kakuma teachers how to install and use Skype. We soon discovered that the schools had very little resources: textbooks were only available at a ratio of 1:10; there were no computers and no power supply. An outreach assistant brought his computer to the class he was teaching and 150 students looked onto the small screen. This made me decide to send them my own laptop with the help of a colleague educator who brought it to the camp himself.

skype refugees - managed solution

I created a website for Project Kakuma set up with crowd funding, as well as a game called “Jump to Kakuma” which is available on Windows 8, 10 and iOS. All returns from the game are invested in textbooks and devices for the camp. Two months ago I had enough funding to send a laptop, a projector and a sound system.
We are now conducting classes every week through three to five Skype calls. During the calls a global teacher teaches science, math, art, etc. to the student refugees. These past two months the students have had lessons taught by teachers from the USA, Brazil, New Zealand, Belgium, Austria, Portugal, Denmark, India, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Israel and many other countries.
During our 2-day Skype-a-Thon back in December, we managed to connect with Kakuma from all over the world. Our 24 Skype calls resulted in an astonishing 137,833 virtual miles—the equivalent of 5 times the circumference of the earth. Check out our Sway presentation to find out more.

skype refugees 2 - managed solution

Some fun facts about Project Kakuma:
  • Mette, a Danish teacher, lets two of her students teach the Kakuma students from time to time.
  • The project was broadcasted by the Portuguese television and published in Belgian, Portuguese and Danish newspapers.
  • Joao, a Portuguese teacher, invited a local band to play during a Skype session while he taught the students about art. He builds apps and is currently working on a game called “Water Heroes” of which all returns will go to refugee camps to build water wells.
  • Those who aren’t able to conduct live calls with Kakuma due to time zone issues record Skype video messages.
  • Vineeta, an Indian teacher, taught the Kakuma students how to create robot cars and sent some to the refugees.
Why is it so important to do all we can to educate these students? The Kakuma refugees are not able to leave the camp. Through Skype calls, we are unlocking their world. We show that we care and increase their level of education, which then leads to greater chances of a new life away from the camp.
We are currently serving five schools with the help of three outreach assistants. The schools are able to host one call each day until April 2016. If you are an educator and you or your classroom would like to have a call with them, you can schedule it on the Microsoft Educator Community.
This project was created through the collaboration of motivated teachers from all over the world. Without the hard work of Kelli (US), Lena (Denmark), Paula (Finland), Koen (Belgium), Joao (Portugal), Kurt (Austria), Ovi (Spain), and many others, there would be no Project Kakuma.


The Future of Tech: See how Women in Tech are Inspiring Great Minds

The Future of Tech: See how Women in Tech are Inspiring Great Minds held on December 10, 2015 at the Microsoft Stores in San Diego, CA and Scottsdale, AZ were both special evenings for women leaders in technology who are passionate about changing the ratio of women in tech. Several guests brought their daughters and together we shared our knowledge and resources to help young women understand and expand their potential as future leaders in technology - from the classroom to the boardroom.

The events both featured a movie screening of Big Dream and success stories and networking opportunities for women technology professionals. The San Diego event featured a panelist of two women leaders who spoke about the unique perspective and innate skills that women bring to traditionally male dominated positions in technology and leadership, such as communication and a desire to help everyone on their team be successful.

Alicia Fettinger, IT Director at VOXOX, and Leslie Jeffries, CIO at California Coast Credit Union, both gave some practical advice and encouragement for women looking to break into careers in technology. They also spoke about overcoming limiting beliefs that women may face and shared personal stories about how they were able to overcome those challenges.

The San Diego event was hosted by Tina Rountree, Business Development Manager, Managed Solution; Board Member of International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) and President of the San Diego Women in Technology (WIT) Community.

The Scottsdale event was hosted by Cherla Ramsey, Director of Business Development, Managed Solution and Membership Chair of the Women in Technology International (WITI) Arizona Chapter.

What Is Big Dream?

Big Dream follows the intimate stories of seven young women who are breaking barriers and overcoming personal challenges to follow their passion in science, math, computing & engineering. From small town Iowa to the bustling streets of the Middle East, Big Dream immerses viewers in a world designed by and for the inspiring next generation of girls.

Tina Rountree, VP of Sales & Marketing, Managed Solution

For more information on scheduling a similar event, please call 800-236-6012.


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