We noticed that there are many students who are deeply burdened by the refugee crisis, but feel paralyzed in how they can contribute. While NGOs are extremely resource-strapped, there are few volunteer opportunities that can sustainably fit into a busy student's schedule. Moreover, there are few opportunities to tap into the unique skills that students can contribute. We want to change this.
What it does
This platform focuses on volunteers helping refugees answer concrete "email-length" questions. Students first express what topics they are interested in helping in, in addition to their time constraints. As refugees submit questions, the platform will find students with matching interests and available time, and ask them to contribute. This provides a unique way in which students can regularly and sustainably contribute, while also supplying refugees with local knowledge.
How we built it
The application was built using a Ruby on Rails JSON API and an AngularJS front-end.
Challenges we ran into
The truly difficult challenges are ahead as we iterate on our prototype and test to see if it is useful in practice.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're proud that our team was able to work so well together and we were able to have a wonderful day of hacking with friends (new and old). We are grateful for the International Rescue Committee, Catholic Charities, and Jewish Family Services who met with us several times before the hackathon to give us context and inspiration. The biggest accomplishment that we hope for is for real impact.
What we learned
It's awesome to work on real needs and in partnership with real NGOs. We also found the feedback from judges very helpful (e.g. planning metrics and analytics for future evaluation). We also really enjoyed working with new people.
What's next for refugee-project
Our ultimate goal is real impact. We're going to working full-time on this over the summer as a research project and we are excited about continuing our partnership with NGOs and deploying it live in the world.