Information for Organizations

We exist to help you help, to enable you to focus on what's important: people

All hands

We believe programming offers a tool to turn ideas into concrete projects and to pave the way for integrating into a society, where labour market requirements increasingly suppose technical skills. To better reach refugees and meet their interest, we wish to channel the energy and resources of the many volunteer organizations on the field. This page is dedicated to you because we believe you are our best chance to have a positive impact.

You are in contact with refugees in you daily work, you know best their struggles, their needs, theirs aspirations. We want to support you by providing you with concrete tools and instructions on how to enable refugees to learn programming. Several steps are part of the process: you will learn how to encourage people and companies to donate laptops, how to prepare laptops and set them up for a life in the hands of new owners and how to best identify refugees that will fully take advantage of the resources made available on our website.

The explanations you will find on the present page do not require any specific technical skills, they have been developed to allow volunteer organizations to work more efficiently and to exchange best practices by channeling efforts. How you proceed and structure your work is up to you. Some cities have already launched a //Refugees on Rails programm, get some inspiration by checking out their website or contacting them.


A basic outline

It all comes down to four steps:

  1. How to organize laptop donation drives
  2. How to receive and store laptops
  3. How to setup laptops and prepare them
  4. How to best give them to refugees

1. How to organize laptop donation drives

Most refugees don't have access to a computer. Therefore, the first step is to collect computers for them to use. //Refugees on Rails will support your organization as far as possible, but mostly encourages you to run you own donation drives in your neighbourhood. The brand under the name //Refugees on Rails will confer credibility to your initiative and be a guarantee of relibialitiy for donors.

Besides private donors, which can be reached through online and offline campaigns, corporate donors should also be targeted. On the one hand, Corporate Social Responsibility approaches have gained popularity among big companies. On the other hand, companies regularly renew their material to upgrade them to the newest standards. Helping refugees by donating computers allows companies to prevent waste by supporting a social initiative. And for each donation of 50 computers and more, the donors will be featured on our website, if they wish to. Just get in touch with companies and help them seize the opportunity!

If you have difficulties collecting laptops, //Refugees on Rails will do its best to meet your needs.

2. How to receive and store laptops

By donating laptops, private and corporate donors trust you to make the best out of them and to use them for a purpose they agreed with. For this reason, each donation should be tracked very carefully. This includes physically numbering the laptop, referencing the name of the donor, the date of donation, the reference number of the computer, the storage place, as well as the name of its new owner, once the computer has been allocated to a refugee. Please use a copy of the following Google Spreadsheet to keep track of your laptops. Laptop Tracking Spreadsheet.

Computers have to be stored in a dry environment and protected from weather conditions (sun light, rain, cold temperature, etc.). Similarly, security and limited access should be ensured to prevent theft and damages.

3. How to setup laptops and prepare them

For privacy reasons, previous contents have to be erased. In order for them to be used by their new owners, laptops will have to be setup by following the given instructions.

Laptops are setup with Ubuntu Linux - a free and open source operating system that runs from the cloud, to the smartphone, to all things. It runs just as well on modern or on older hardware. Ubuntu comes with an easy to use graphical interface for beginners and all the tools and power for people looking to start a career in the IT industry.

We have created a script (a program) that takes care of configuring and setting up an Ubuntu installation to be ready to use for programming. This allows for beginners to hit the ground running and not waste hours (potentially days) setting up tools they don't yet understand. The script can be used in a fresh install or can be run anytime again to update the machine to the latest version. Specific instructions and our open source script can be found on our public Github page:

  //RoR Github - Machina

4. How to best give them to refugees

The needs of refugees are diverse. Successfull integration and harmonious society require taking action at various stages of the refugee lifecourse. Language barriers, cultural shock, psychological burden, legal uncertainty are often urgent hurdles that have to be tackled. We recognize the importance of contributions done at each level and believe computers can facilitate many processes.

With its ambition to enable refugees to program and to set up their own projects, //Refugees on Rails targets individuals presenting some minimal requirements to fully enjoy the courses and material available. As current learning resources are in English, a sufficient knowledge of the language is necessary to follow the instructions provided. Furthermore, even though the learning material does not suppose any programming skills, a basic knowledge of how to use a computer is needed.

Of course, it is up to you as an organization with given resources to set up your own requirements. With the help of mentors, translators and some creativity, the rules of the game can be expanded.