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People MCH LSE Refuge City ATH Refugee Info 003

Get to know the newcomers, activists and volunteers we met in Athens, Berlin and London, as they share their personal experiences of refuge, welcome and the digital city.


MCH LSE Digital Cityof Refuge Berlin Ida REDI 01 Marcia Chandra

Ida, ReDI School of Digital Integration
Mitte, Berlin, September 2018

There were so many digital initiatives to help newcomers in Berlin at the beginning of the ‘crisis.’ The refugees were media-savvy and so technology was a way to help in a relevant way.

ReDI focuses on digital training, offering beginner to advanced classes in coding, digital literacy and design, among others. ReDI has only been around since 2016, but we already have partnerships with Microsoft and Facebook and have been recognised by the government. Both Mark Zuckerberg and Angela Merkel have visited us. We recently did a survey and found that 25% of our alumni that responded are now working in IT and more than 50% are or have been in internships in the digital sector. For us, digital skills are the tools but the goal is integration. It is a 'School of Digital Integration.'

(digital skills, Berlin)

MCH LSE Digital Cityof Refuge Berlin Ida REDI 02 Marcia Chandra
MCH LSE Digital Cityof Refuge Berlin Ida REDI 03 Marcia Chandra

I am really proud of the work we do at ReDI, especially the Digital Women Program. There was limited participation from women before 2018 — the advanced coding class currently has 158 people, 91% of whom are men. Women who join this course are mostly interested in learning basic skills and very keen to learn about digital security as they are concerned with their children’s safety online. Most women students use WhatsApp and this is also how we connect with them and communicate classes and information. We’ve trained about 100 women so far by creating a safe space for them, offering childcare and a supportive environment.

(digital skills)

MCH LSE Digital Cityof Refuge Berlin Ida REDI 04 Marcia Chandra

ReDI mostly depends on volunteers. There are 156 volunteers and teachers right now from 34 different nationalities. Some of them are also alumni of the School. I came here from Denmark to work here as an intern and to do my Master’s research on the School.


MCH LSE Digital Cityof Refuge Berlin Ida REDI 05 Marcia Chandra

Berlin is very big and very multicultural, which is its strength. But there is a danger of people closing up and staying in their own communities. At ReDI, we encourage refugees to take the lead in becoming the main agents for change in their situation. We give gentle nudges to prepare them for the German reality, for example, we don’t have Arabic lettering on our keyboards.

(hospitality, berlin)

MCH LSE Digital Cityof Refuge Berlin Ida REDI 06 Marcia Chandra
MCH LSE Digital Cityof Refuge Berlin Ida REDI 07 Marcia Chandra

I don’t think it’s easy to come to a new country, especially Germany, which is very bureaucratic. When I came here a few months ago, even I had a hard time navigating the bureaucracy, and I speak both German and English. At ReDI, it’s important to us that the students feel welcome, and we treat them with respect and dignity when we invite them to join and co-create our school. We have high expectations of them and expect that they participate in courses and other activities. And most of them live up to — and even exceed — our expectations. We have so many success stories of students getting jobs and internships in the IT sector, and also some who return as teachers to give back to the ReDI community.


Update June 2020 — After moving back home, I launched a ReDI School Digital Women Program in Copenhagen in 2019. ReDI now runs three Digital Women Programs in Europe: Berlin with 100 students, Copenhagen with 60 and Munich with 50. In addition to digital literacy and basic digital skills for women, we also offer training in UX and coding. As a result of these efforts, the advanced coding classes (now called Digital Career Program) has had a lot more women join its standard curriculum.

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