LearnSyria and the Chance to Do Something Different

*This is the second part of a three part conversation series with Rumie founder Tariq Fancy.

Rumie’s #LearnSyria project, which supports the education of displaced Syrian students, started out as a short-term campaign and, thanks to outpouring support, has since expanded into an ongoing, multinational initiative. What do you think this extraordinary support is the result of? Where do you see this project going long-term?

There are people around the world who want to help in humanitarian crisis situations but don’t just want to give money – they want to give themselves, their time, their skills, their passion. The problem is that they’re sitting far away and won’t be able to visit and help with their own hands. After all, most people who are passionate about helping Syrian refugees in the Middle East can’t actually visit a refugee camp in Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan.

“Most people who are passionate about helping Syrian refugees in the Middle East can’t actually visit a refugee camp in Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan.”
So far, most large development organizations give these people the option to donate money. Certainly money is critical, but for folks who have more time and skills to offer than they do money, that can be limiting. With #LearnSyria, we gave people the ability to do something different: to donate their brains. Thousands of people around the world contributed on the LearnCloud platform – much like how many people around the world contributed to building Wikipedia – and helped find us and organize the best free learning content online specifically tailored to meet requests from our local partners. We and our partners in the region then thoroughly vetted this content, and it is now being used by thousands of Syrian children who would have otherwise been unable to access it.

There were people in the Arctic Circle using their computers to contribute to Syrian refugee education programs on the Turkey/Syria border. It was extraordinary – even a few years ago this was not possible, due to the lack of free high-quality learning materials online and the cost of basic smartphones and tablets to bring it to people in remote areas. Our work for Syrian refugees was only the first step; we’ve recently added features to allow volunteers to use the LearnCloud to contribute to various other projects we’re doing, including in Guatemala, Tanzania, and remote Indigenous communities in Canada. I believe this movement will continue to grow, and increasingly people will use technology to donate not just their money but their skills and their passion to people far away.

Written By: Merone Tadesse Business Development Associate at Rumie

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