| February 26, 2014

30,000 E-Books Where You’d Least Expect Them: UNHCR Refugee Settlements


Stories about refugee camps these days are synonymous with poverty, lack of opportunity and even terrorism. But not today. We’re thrilled to share with you something positive and transformative about two refugee settlements in Western Tanzania.

Kindles in Schools in Tanzania

Thanks to a partnership with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 30,000 life-changing international and African e-books have been delivered to 2,300 students across four schools in the Mishamo and Katumba refugee settlements. 105,000 people, affected by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi conflicts, have called these settlements home since the early 1990’s. People living in both settlements and in the surrounding communities will also have access to our book application, Worldreader Mobile, through which they can access a library of African and international books using a device they already own: their data-enabled mobile feature phone.

Here’s what the wonderful folks at the UNHCR had to say about this exciting new program:

This project is part of UNHCR’s broader education and innovation strategy to harness the use of new technologies to improve access to quality education programming for refugees and others of concern.

–Jacqueline Stecker- ICT & Education Innovation Specialist

This is truly a gift which will keep giving. It will increase literacy and expand mental and physical horizons – helping to provide quality education to large numbers of students. It will also enlarge choices for people who can now dream about greater possibilities. The impact for women and girls, in particular, is immeasurable.

— Joyce Mends-Cole – UNHCR Representative in Tanzania

Books and Reading in Tanzanian Refugee Camps

Over 1500 people attended the launch ceremony last Friday including representation from the Tanzanian regional government. The celebrations were complete with a ribbon cutting, dancing, teachers, students and parent participation, Tanzanian press and a series of speeches from our own Eastern African Manager Joan Mwachi, UNHCR, school program managers and government representatives.

ADDITIONAL READING: The joint press release announcing the partnership & The Telegraph in the United Kingdom.

UNHCR Kindles in Schools Launch Ceremony

To say that we are thrilled about this partnership is an understatement. This project will enable hundreds of thousands of the neediest people in this world to have access to the necessary information they need to improve their lives. We’re working endlessly to eradicate illiteracy through mobile technology and partners such as the UNHCR only bring us closer to this lofty goal.