Internet cafés are no start-up playgrounds, but a social space in which people can read and research side by side. This workshop describes the everyday life in five Internet cafés, by refugees and for refugees, initiated by Eben Chu from Cameroon for the organization “Refugees Emancipation”. The cafés run on old computers in various refugee homes in Berlin and Potsdam. “We need a place that we control ourselves. The existing communal space is used for prayers or gymnastics and is under the strict control of the home management. They know who keeps the keys when. That’s why the computers are for us a means for self-determined action.” Most users want to read news from their home country and chat with friends and relatives abroad. Also they want to talk about their rights and health issues with other refugees in Berlin who are in a similar situation.“ After all, the German bureaucratic language can cause hard times. Therefore “Refugees Emancipation” initiated a web app where their users can exchange insights and information anonymously from wherever they are. Eben Chu and his fellows will discuss necessity and experience with the app thus far.

Introducing App for refugees by Refugees Emancipation and Workshop with Eben Chu.

Eben Chu is founder and project manager of Refugees Emancipation, an initiative which aims at improving daily life conditions of refugees in Germany. Refugees Emancipation are based in Potsdam. Since most refugee homes do not have wireless internet – less than 5 percent of the refugees have internet access – Eben Chu started an Internet cafe initiative while he himself was living in a refugee home some years ago. He describes the Internet cafes as a circle of trust within the controlled spaces of the refugee homes, or a place which refugees can trust in. Most recently Refugees Emancipation initiated their new web app Adoro, which exists as a beta version so far.

Simon Redfern provided the Adoro app which is an instance of the open source forum Discourse (discourse.org). Simon is the CEO of TESOBE, a Berlin based agency that builds web and mobile apps using programming languages like Python. In 2008 Simon founded the Open Bank Project as a reaction to the financial crisis. He is a seasoned technologist with over 25 years experience in IT. He studied electronic engineering in Manchester in the early 80’s focusing on real-time programming and digital systems, followed by relational databases and then the web in the early 90’s. With his company TESOBE he co-lead a project called Feowl to gather data about power cuts in Douala in Cameron. Other projects include Open PEPs for Transparency International and Open EDU for UK Government.