After an emotional 2015 phone call with an outreach worker in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, Africa, Koen Timmers decided to set up a crowdfunding campaign. The campaign allowed him to ship his own laptop, 20 more devices, solar panels and internet infrastructure to Kakuma. From then on, refugees were able to begin learning about web design. The teaching resources at Kakuma are now used by 100 global educators and Koen himself to offer free education to African refugees via Skype. More than 20,000 global students from about 40 countries are involved in Project Kakuma and are having inspiring Skype calls with African refugees every day. The Kakuma students, Koen’s students and the ‘global’ students benefit from this situation.
Aiming to help to shape global citizens, Koen launched three, global, student-centred projects during 2017 in which 250 schools in 66 countries took part. Over a four-week period, students focus on several UN Sustainable Development Goals. For the Water project, 10 schools in 10 countries took part. For Human Differences, 50 schools in 37 countries. And for Climate Action 250 schools in 66 countries. Students had to research, brainstorm, discuss, present and share their findings via weekly videos.
The projects changed students’ mindsets, offered a platform to teachers to exchange and discover new approaches and instilled empathy in classrooms. These projects created a big impact and were presented to policy makers and covered by media around the world. The Climate Action project were supported by, among others, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Jane Goodall, Greenpeace, UNESCO and National Geographic and Discovery Channel.