Innovations from robots to blogs and hip-hop
Displaced people are used to living in uncertainty, and their ingenuity is now helping overcome the coronavirus pandemic – Congolese refugees in Angola are blogging, musicians in Niger are rapping, and refugees in Jordan are making robot soap dispensers out of Lego.
Marwan, a Syrian refugee studying robotics, designed and built the soap dispensing machine with his peers at the innovation lab inside Za’atari camp, home to more than 75,000 Syrian refugees.
It automatically dispenses hand sanitiser so people don't have to touch the bottle – reducing the spread of COVID-19.
“We made this robot to contribute as refugees. We want to be part of the fight against coronavirus,” says Marwan, who gladly shared the design so more of the robots could be made.
In Niger, hip-hop artist Danny Lee and the Raised Fists collective have recorded a song called 'Protect Your Life' to build awareness about the coronavirus.
The track is sung in the Djerma, Haoussa, Tamashek and French languages to include the internally displaced, refugee and host communities of Niger; and the collective, includes both Nigerans and displaced alike.
Thousands of miles away, Roger Amaru’s passion for writing led to his work as a journalist before he fled conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). With the threat of COVID-19 sweeping through the Lovua settlement in Angola where he now lives, Roger has sprung into action again.
His blog began as a way to communicate what life was like for refugees in Angola, and is now dedicated to keeping fellow refugees educated and informed on the coronavirus facts.
“This is something I take very seriously,” says Roger, 43. “My biggest fear is that people would panic. I still worry what will happen to us refugees, who are very vulnerable in such situations.”
Roger’s blog, called Histoires de Lovua – ‘Stories from Lovua’ in French – shares vital information on how to stay safe during the pandemic.
The team of 10 makes the best of limited resources. They share Roger’s smartphone to take photos and record interviews, then upload them via a shared laptop at the community centre – when the internet is working.
Omotola Akindipe, a UNHCR reporting officer in Angola, says we plan to provide the group with better quality smartphones to “enhance their work and also improve communication between them and our protection colleagues.”
“Life here can be tough, but we choose to focus on the positive things – like the skills, talent and resilience of refugees,” says Roger.
The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.