As a student in Innovation for Sustainable International Development at University of Sussex, and a social innovation practitioner, I am very interested in understanding how different platforms and collaborations can help us solve some of the most pressing societal challenges. When I saw the call to participate in the #Hack4Humanity event that would take place during the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, I didn’t think twice and applied.

The event would be a 24-hour ‘hackathon’ involving more than 100 hackers, entrepreneurs, developers, and humanitarian experts from around the globe. Together we would work alongside five UN agencies and four leading technology firms to co-create solutions to respond to the current refugee crisis.


After being notified that I had been selected, I posted a message in the Chevening Scholars Facebook group to connect with other scholars who knew about the crisis first-hand, or had some experience working in or studying it, to tap into their knowledge. That was how I met Samuel Odawo. He is a Chevening Scholar studying Management of Special Education in Developing Countries at the University of Birmingham, and a special education and disability expert. Before coming to the UK, he was working as an education teacher at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. His mission is to make sure that children with disabilities receive the right education so that they can be empowered rather than helped.


We had our first conversation via Skype, where Samuel gave me many insights that I then took to the hackathon in Istanbul. During the 24 hours, my team worked alongside UNICEF, Global Citizen and Ericsson in the educational challenge. Our solution was a technological platform that helps children at refugee camps identify their aspirations and, through a gaming experience, empowers them to reach their goals. Before the final presentation, Samuel and I had another Skype call to get his feedback.

Our team won third place out of the ten proposals presented, and we are now following up with Ericsson and Global Citizen to find the best way to bring this project to fruition. Samuel and I will also keep collaborating on future projects.

Manuel also blogged about the experience on Medium. Read the blog post (in Spanish) here:

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