Co-Creating Hands-On, Project-Based Learning Opportunities
Twende will teach our design workshops to refugees, aiming to create modules together for participants to teach others how to 'Build It.'
The Design Cycle we teach.
What problem does your innovation solve?
The average lifespan in a Tanzanian camp is 14 years because of a lack of income-generating opportunities outside, resulting in dwindling resources and drastic action (e.g. reduced meals).
Many great vocational training centers exist, but there is a gap between learning the how of doing and the how of identifying challenges and creating solutions.
Additionally, here in Tanzania, government laws prevent the use of national curriculum in refugee camps, preventing effective learning.
Explain your innovation.
The Twende team proposes using our hands-on, project-based, independent workshops. We have been running these workshops for 5+ years to groups of school students and youth/streetchildren/women's/farmer's organizations, reaching 1000+ people in Arusha and nearby villages over the past few years.
We focus on asset-based community development through design, creativity, and entrepreneurship workshops. All of our workshops are designed to build creative confidence through sharing examples and pushing participants to identify challenges in their communities and make possible solutions. See photos for some examples.
After the workshop, participants tell us how 'We have so many resources we could use that could change our lives; we have assets that we are not using but someone can wake you up, and make you realize that you have gold and silver, stop crying.'
We believe our asset-based community development model would be especially relevant in refugee camps, as outside resources are limited. We propose a three-part solution:
1) Twende runs a series of workshop in the refugee camps.
2) Enthusiastic participants are consoled for designing the rules and tools for a makerspace, similar to Twende's in Arusha, with handtools and some machinery.
3) Participants are encouraged to design and teach their own 'Build It' workshops - where they teach others how to make life-improving technology, with Twende staff assistance - while continuing to use & govern their makerspace.
Girls from a local youth organization learn about how to measure materials properly from Bernard.
Community members learn how to make a simple technology from local materials.
Secondary school students look at their completed torch (Twende Build It).
Secondary school students work on their fish de-scaling machine, complete with a fish mock-up.
Community members work on a net to catch avocados normally eaten by village dogs.
Secondary school students showcase their first version of their bicycle-powered washing machine (right now, hand-crank).
Secondary school students show their vegetable cutting 'sketch model.'
Twende has a policy against discriminating against anybody with passion & commitment to creating technology that solve community challenges. We plan to offer workshops in groups: first for the older community members, to establish trust. Then to youth under 18 years old and to youth 18-29 years old. We separate by age mostly to address different styles of learning, and we will select specific participants based on community input.
That being said, we know we must intentionally counteract traditional gender imbalance. If suitable to community, we will run girls/women-only workshops. We are also developing women-specific Build Its (i.e. Batik tools, reusable sanitary pads).
We will track number of makerspace visitors (disaggregated by gender, age, and other indicators according to community preferences), workshop participants, new Build It workshops created, and technologies being used and/or been sold. Depending on capacity, we'd also track time/money saved from technologies.
Some past participants from a secondary school.
How is your innovation unique?
There are organizations that set up 'fablabs' - these are generally rapid prototyping machines such as 3-d printers and laser cutters. These are great, but Twende focuses more on machines that are more available in the majority of Tanzania, such as hand tools, welding machines, and grinders (yes the last two use electricity - Twende is partnering with solar providers to overcome this challenge). If someone learns how to use a 3-d printer in a refugee camp, then leaves, the chances of accessing another 3-d printer right now are low. Should this fact change, Twende is happy to adapt.
Additionally, many organizations offer STEAM workshops, most focusing specifically on national curricula. This is great, and we also run some curricula-based workshops in local schools. However, we believe we should compliment these workshops with more free-thinking, problem-identifying, solution-making workshops, such as our very practical workshops, designed for resource-limited environments.
What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?
We have many questions, and we are working on getting a permit to visit the TZ camps, though we have begun conversations with UNHCR to learn some basics.
What is the day-to-day life of different individuals in a refugee camp? Who would be most interested in our initiative?
How much machinery/hand-tool experience do refugees have? Is a completely-refugee-run makerspace feasible? (safety and equity concerns)
What are some ideas people in camps already have? What resources actually ARE available? (wood, metal, nails/screws, clay/mud, excess-trash, etc.)
Are there bigger legal concerns for selling self-made items in weekly markets?
Are there both people who want to teach and who want to make? Do they have time and drive?
Tell us more about you.
Our permanent team of 6 engineers, designers, strategists, and education-passionate is supported by ~20 volunteers and interns each year, from students to experienced businesspeople from Tanzania and 10+ other countries. We are an AfriLabs innovation hub and also work closely with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as part of the International Development Innovation Network - giving us connections to innovation-minded folks in Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Turkey, and Australia.
Twende permanent team:
Bernard - Director of Technology / Founder;
Chris - Creativity Trainer;
Jim - Project Engineer & Mentor / Founder;
Debbie - Executive Director;
Epifania - Education Coordinator;
Frank - Workshop Manager
What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?
Emergency Setting - Elaborate
We would start in northwest Tanzania, in Nduta, Mtendeli, and/or Nyarugusu refugee camps, where the most common language is Kiswahili. These camps serve mostly refugees from Burundi and Rwanda, and they have been supported by humanitarian support for the past 23 years. They are looking for other ways for sustainability.
The specifics of which camp we will start in will be determined by upcoming assessment visits and continued conversations with refugees and UNHCR representatives.
Where will your innovation be implemented?
This solution will likely need to be slightly tailored to be effective in other locations, for instance, do other refugee camps have similar need for hands-on, project-based workshops? Do other refugee camps already have workshops with hand tools and machinery for people to use?
Additionally, most of our current staff is Tanzanian, speaking Kiswahili and English. To move to other countries outside EAC, we would hire & train local staff and create language-specific materials.
Experience in Implementation Country(ies)
Yes, for more than one year.
All of our permanent staff are based in Arusha. We have begun building a relationship with the innovation unit of UNHCR supporting the Tanzanian refugee camps. We also have working relationships with a number of private in-country solar companies, as well as Tanzanian government science/technology agencies (i.e. COSTECH, CAMARTEC, TEMDO) and universities (i.e. Arusha technical College, Sokoine University of Agriculture) - potential places to find more technical support.
I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.
Sector Expertise - Elaborate
Twende was registered in 2007 as a Tanzanian NGO, originally to alleviate poverty through appropriate technology development. We added training in 2012 both in and outside of Twende, and in 2014, we started supporting innovators longer-term. We still develop our own technologies, to understand the challenges innovators face when developing and disseminating products and to offer life-improving technologies to the general public. Our vision is to see more local solutions to local challenges.
Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.
We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.