HP's brightest minds are innovating long-term solutions to help refugees become self-sufficient, rebuild their lives and their societies.
At the UNHCR Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwest Kenya, there are refugees and internally displaced people who've spent more than 15 years living this way. Their homes are tents, their water access is difficult, farming is near-impossible, and transport links are broken. Despite the harsh conditions,
more than 80,000 refugees try to improve their lives by making good use of their time, accessing new education and livelihood opportunities.
Enabling millions to restart their lives For 60 years, UNHCR has enabled tens of millions of people to restart their lives. Today, there is increasing concern for millions of men, women and children in the Horn of Africa who are affected by both drought and conflict. The region has a growing number of refugees and internally displaced people with many different needs, and the UNHCR is closely monitoring developments in order to respond effectively to population displacements and problems of citizenship, and to help them rebuild a future.
And HP is helping with our brightest minds and our latest technology. As well as making equipment donations, we have challenged our top-talent employees to identify potential employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for Kakuma refugees. With the help of technology, this will empower them to improve the quality of their own lives and those of others inside the camp, and ultimately to lead successful, productive future lives.
Adversity is a powerful motivator The refugee community covers the full spectrum of society, with a rich and diverse skill set including professional skills. Every hour that these displaced people sit idle in camp represents an hour of wasted potential. However, adversity is a powerful motivator. "I want to do international relations or become a lawyer, so that I also help the Somali community," says Suad, a refugee teacher who has lived at Kakuma Refugee Camp for 14 years. "Maybe I can be the first female president in Somalia and I can bring peace."
Accessing technology inside the camp
Suad is using the camp's Community Technology Access (CTA) center to further her studies online and to keep in touch with her family outside the camp. "You connect with people who are in different places and they give you ideas." She adds, "If there were no computers, life in the camp would be very hard."
HP has collaborated with UNHCR, Microsoft, and other partners to create this center, which is one of over 42 UNHCR CTA centers in 22 countries around the world. António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees explains that the UNHCR has promised to go beyond meeting food and shelter needs to also ensure that refugees are successful in their future lives. The aim of the CTA program is to enhance education, self-reliance employability of refugees and their host communities, and each center is equipped for educational and training purposes with an HP MultiSeat ms6200 solution with Microsoft Windows® MultiPoint™ Server.
Overcoming the digital divide The UNHCR CTA centers put technology at the fingertips of every refugee, displaced person, and host community, helping them to engage, learn and work. Guterres adds that it's essential to "help displaced people overcome the digital divide [and] have access to what is today basic in the modern world."
As part of the UN account, UNHCR is an important and long-term HP customer. Contributing to the CTA program and involving our employees through the top-talent challenge have been natural extensions of this business relationship. HP's Account General Manager for the UN, Hinrich Westerkamp, describes how collaborating to address societal needs creates "new dynamics and new opportunities with our customers" and provides an "added level of engagement" that strengthens the overall account relationship.
Westerkamp adds, "The United Nations is a very fast growing global account for HP. The close cooperation while helping to improve the lives of refugees and displaced people has been instrumental in elevating discussions with key UN leaders to a different level. We are recognized as a true partner in fighting to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of the UN. And this partnership resonates very well back into our daily business relationship!"
There are many additional ways in which HP is supporting UNHCR. For example, at HP Discover 2011, HP's largest enterprise customer conference in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the event team ensured that, for each returned evaluation form, a €5 donation was made to two non-profit organizations – UNHCR and a non-profit organization called "mothers2mothers". It is hoped that, in future, HP employees will also be able to contribute to UNHCR through volunteering initiatives and by providing pro bono services.
Achieving long-term self-sufficiency HP's brightest minds are right now innovating long-term solutions to help refugees become self-sufficient, rebuild their lives and their societies back home or in the society they live in, and gain qualifications and employment. And when these ideas work in Kakuma Refugee Camp, HP can replicate and scale for others facing similar challenges around the globe where UNHCR operates.