A new app is being developed that seeks to empower refugees by fostering an appreciation for their talents and ensuring their skills are meaningfully used.
Anita PeeplesSkills such as guitar playing can be shared through the Karavan app
As a refugee, in many countries you are not allowed to work and earn money. What follows is a life in limbo, social isolation, alienation, and an extraordinary waste of talents and skills. What to do?
Karavan is a non-profit organisation and a mobile application which seeks to empower refugees – some 65 million people are currently forcibly displaced all around the world, according to the UNHCR - and to promote the exchange of skills and services between refugees and their host communities around the world.
The app is a platform through which refugees and local residents can put their skills and time to good use, offering important services, building links with one another, and helping to promote integration and cultural diversity along the way.
Users create a profile detailing the skills and interests they are willing to exchange – e.g. language tutoring, web design skills, music lessons, gardening skills, psychological support – and use the app also to find the nearest service they need: e.g. help with DIY. The app uses a non-monetary points system, which allows refugees and residents to accumulate points for services provided, which they can then themselves spend on other services on offer.
To facilitate the exchange of skills and time, the platform has translation functions, a messaging service and a GPS system, which allows users to connect with others nearby. Users can also give ratings and reviews, and the platform includes also a program of monthly events held in cities around the world.
Outreach Services for Society's Most Vulnerable
And it's not just the refugees themselves who benefit from a skills/time exchange such as this, but the communities they live in too. In particular, by offering a tool through which those lacking financial resources can also access services (be it help with fixing a leaking pipe, or help with shopping, or simply a little bit of company), Karavan has also the potential to reach the most vulnerable members of those communities, such as the unemployed, those living in social isolation, and even the elderly, who are also increasingly smartphone users.
Karavan is, however, not just a skills exchange platform, but seeks to offer refugees free essential services such as language training, legal advice and other educational support.
To help raise money to turn their vision into a reality, they are currently crowdfunding to be able to continue to offer these important services and to pay for app development, legal fees and administrative costs.
If you wish to donate and help them reach their initial target (15 days left!) you can click here:
And here you can watch Karavan's founder Soraya Beheshti talk about the intiative: