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Building a Brighter Future for Refugees in Kenya

Neil Sugden

December 6, 2022
By Neil Sugden
CTO, Field Sales, EMEA

Inspiration can come from many places. It was whilst participating in Liberty Global’s The Big Ride charity event just before the pandemic, where the Infinera team rode 200 miles for their charity, Street Child, that I asked myself the question, “Can I do more to help?”

Infinera and the entire telecom industry relies on a steady flow of educated graduates to develop into the engineers of the future and to drive the industry forward. They create increasingly innovative solutions providing high-scale global connectivity. These students tend to come from the developed world, where they have had privileged upbringings, but what if we could break that mold and introduce opportunities to students from the developing world to become the next generation of engineers?

The ethos of Street Child is to bring education to most impoverished regions of the developing world, and they link this approach with some of the largest infrastructure projects that are taking place on or around the continent of Africa, such as the 2Africa and Equiano subsea cable systems, which are enabling continental levels of connectivity for hundreds of millions of end users.

Outdoor classroom and new indoor classroom and studentsLeft: Outside learning with no facilities in 2021. Right: The refurbished classroom in 2022.

Working with Street Child, Infinera identified an area in Kenya, Kalobeyei, a settlement housing over 39,000 refugees escaping violence in Burundi, DRC, Somalia, and South Sudan. The school was in desperate need of repair, with no running water and no toilet facilities. Infinera has worked closely with Street Child, Build Africa Kenya, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to renovate the school, replacing all desks and chairs, modernizing the classroom and adding new blackboards to help facilitate learning, and most importantly, building separate male/female toilet facilities, which the school previously lacked.

New tables, chairs, and latrinesLeft: New tables and chairs for the classroom. Right: New girls’ and boys’ latrines.

With the project now complete, it is my hope that the children we are helping onto the educational ladder in the Kalobeyei refugee camp will one day be inspired to the join the industry that is enabling the connectivity and modernization of continental Africa.

Tags: Innovation