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This week Google announced it’s donating $5.3 million towards online access for refugees in Germany.

The tech giant’s charitable arm, Google.org, is partnering with NetHope to launch Project Reconnect, an initiative that will supply 25,000 Chromebooks to nonprofit organisations, so that refugees can access education and other online resources.

Make Foundation knows how vital technology is in supporting refugees learn a new host language and other skills they need to work, study and assimilate into their new environment. Late last year we teamed up with e-Learning, Porirua to co-host a Google Apps workshop for Wellington’s newly arrived Syrian refugee community.

Red Cross staff and volunteers helped transport participants from Wellington to Porirua. This generous support meant 24 people were able to take part in the day’s learning and community gathering.

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For many, it was their first encounter with Google Apps, so the facilitators, e-Learning’s tech gurus Ibrahim Raouf-Morton and Tim Davies-Colley, focused on demonstrating useful apps to support daily life such as Gmail, Maps, Hangouts.

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17-year-old Katia Restom said she really enjoyed the workshop and got a lot out of it.

For me it was an opportunity to consolidate the knowledge I already had and try out apps I hadn’t explored yet. For other people like my mum and dad, it was a really good introduction to apps that can help them build confidence in their new environment.

And what Syrian gathering would be complete without a shared meal? There was plenty for everyone and the cleaning up offered another opportunity to highlight the inclusive nature of Kiwi kitchens where all are welcome to participate!

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