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Developing Human Centered Ideas in Kakuma Refugee Camp

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Coming up with an idea for our Amplify challenges may seem daunting, but by coming together and taking into account the needs of the people you are designing for, it's amazing how quickly good ideas can form. Check out what was accomplished by our Kakuma Community Champions in just one day.

The Champions

Thanks to our partnership with Inzone - an initiative led by the University of Geneva to provide university level education to refugees – we have found an exceptional team of Champions. You can read more about them here.

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Getting a Fresh Perspective

The Champions dove right into research by interviewing each other about the challenge topic. They adopted a beginners mind by leaving their pre-conceived ideas on the topic aside and listening without judgment.

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Identifying Challenges and Surprises

To their surprise, they discovered new information and identified common challenges. When interviewing Omar, Vestine, one of the champions, learned about I.T courses available at the camp. This realization made her think about the importance of expanding these kinds of educational opportunities, especially to women.

Based what they learned from their interviews, each team chose an  area to focus their ideas around: girls' education, access to post secondary education, improving the school environment and access to education for young children who live too far from formal schools.

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Then, the teams got visual and shared as many ideas as they could.

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When a discrepancy emerged, facilitators reminded the participants of the importance of building upon ideas by saying 'yes and' instead of 'no' or 'that won’t work here.”  This tip encouraged people to put aside their preconceptions and add to the ideas of others –even when they thought some ideas were impossible.


The brainstorm created lively conversation and a lot of energy. The champions and participants then worked together to vote on the idea they liked best.

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In order to think about how their idea might work in the real world, teams were asked to draw User Experience Maps. Using this worksheet, they outlined how someone might use the program they created, step by step. 

First, they described their user. 

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Then they developed a story of how the user would interact with their idea – How would a local woman hear about it? When would she participate?

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This exercise challenged the groups to adjust their concepts.

One group initially identified their user as a young teenage girl, but after writing down the story, they discovered that they were designing a campaign to convince parents to let their daughters go to school. They realized they needed to first focus on the parents and understand what it would take to change their minds and allow their daughters go to school instead of doing chores at home.

Getting feedback

The most revealing part of the day was when teams had the opportunity to go to nearby houses, show their User Experience Maps and get feedback.

Neighbors gathered around, eager to see the ideas and share their thoughts.

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When the teams returned, we discussed eye-opening realizations.

One group had focused on developing informal classes for young girls who don’t go to school. While chatting with neighborhood mothers, they realized that they also wanted to learn since they had not gone to school either. Getting feedback uncovered an opportunity to re-adjust their idea and include mothers.

Posting to The challenge

The Champions have added these ideas to the challenge so that you and others from around the world can read about them and share your feedback. They'll be actively participating in the challenge and sharing what they learn with their community.

Add your IDEA

As the experience of our Champions shows, coming together to develop an idea can be a pretty simple process. But it's also just the beginning of an opportunity to learn from your users, community, experts and designers from around the world.

Add your idea and join the conversation! 

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Refugee Education Challenge


Join the conversation:

Photo of Hassan Bashir Ahmed

That is true about refugees here kakuma and as champions we do collect our fellow refugees there stories and ideas to the challenge of education as far as you have seen from the research and comments that made earlier.

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