About Switchboard

Switchboard is a pilot and innovative project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Shabaka, a values-driven, diaspora-led consulting and research organisation focused on diaspora humanitarian preparedness, and response. Switchboard is a project designed by and for the diaspora.

Using technology, it aims to facilitate connections among different generations and networks of diaspora actors to encourage knowledge exchange between communities and generations and produce new ideas related to humanitarian action.

Its main objectives are to :

  1. Improve the reach and impact of diaspora humanitarianism through the development of an innovative Switchboard, which will include a mobile application and a dedicated microsite with different content 

  2. Increase and sustain knowledge and access to education on diaspora humanitarian engagement, especially for 1.5 and 2nd generation diaspora  

  3. Strengthen diaspora networks, bridging generational divides, to improve capacity and action in response to humanitarian crises 

It is designed to become a resource hub full of practical advice for diaspora organisations and individuals involved or interested in humanitarian response, a first port of call for diaspora actors who would like to learn more, contribute or act within humanitarian contexts. This hub will also share cultural resources to remind first generations of home, even in the most challenging times during crises, and to encourage younger generations to (re)discover their familial countries of heritage.

This pilot focuses on three countries: Haiti, Sudan, and Syria, whose diasporas have been active in mounting a humanitarian response to recurrent crises, over generations.

This project is being implemented with partner organisations from these diasporas, namely Governance Programming Overseas (GPO), Haiti Renewal Alliance (HRA), The Syrian Charities & Associations Network in the UK (SCAN UK), and American Relief Coalition for Syria (ARCS) to collect vital insights on their needs when responding to humanitarian crises.

The Build Has Started On Our App!

We are super excited that the build for our humanitarian app is underway. Project Manager, Richard Tandoh, gives us the down low on what we might expect.

Omer Eltigani’s Spicy Peanut Chili Dip Recipe

Sudanese cook and food writes Omer Eltigani shows us how to make a simple peanut chili dip, a popular side dish to most sundanese foods. You can find him on Instagram-@sudanesekitchen, Facebook- The Sudanese Kitchen and https://sudanese.kitchen/

  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 lime- juiced
  • 50ml water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baobab powder

Omer Eltigani’s Peanut Salad

Sudanese cook and food writes Omer Eltigani shows us how to make a Sudanese peanut salad.

  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 50ml water
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons virgin sesame oil

Omer Eltigani’s Mish Recipe

Sudanese cook and food writes Omer Eltigani shows us how to make Mish which is a spicy yogurt dip common in Egypt and also popular in Sudan.

  • 1 kg thick set yogurt
  • 200 grams feta cheese
  • 5 fresh chillies
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon nigella seeds

Chef Emad’s Syrian Stuffed Baby Aubergine

This Syrian Stuffed baby aubergine recipe by Chef Emad is the perfect side dish. Emad Shoshara is a Syrian chef who has lived in France since 2015. He has founded a catering service called Chef Emad in France which specialises in Syrian and Meditarian dishes. Emad has opened cooking classes in his workshop to share the secrets of Syrian cuisine to as many people as possible. Check out more of his recipes on his YouTube channel.

Lamise O’s Easy Haitian Legume

Delighted to share Lamise O’s Easy Haitian Vegetable Stew for the weekend chefs! Lamise ( pronounced La-Meez) was born in Haiti, but raised in North Dakota. She’s on a mission to help the world know and enjoy Haitian Cuisine and some other great dishes she’s learned along the way. You can catch more of her recipes on her channel here.


Tune in, turn off

Continuing our dive into diaspora culture, today we are dropping some Haitian vibes with a playlist including artists such as Malou Beauvoir, Manbo Weena and Youry Vixamar. Listen and share!

Diaspora Dining

We are reaching out to chefs/home cooks from the diaspora who would like to have their recipes recorded on film. If you have something in mind that reminds you of home, reach out to us. In the meantime we would love to share this recipe for Kofta with Milk from The Syrian Kitchen.


Aleese Gabir In Her Own Words

In this vlog Aleese, an honours student, filmmaker and creative director from Sydney, Australia talks about representation, what it means to her and why it’s important especially in her capacity as a second generation diasporan from Sudan.

Latest Podcast

Latest podcast alert! When second generation diasporas join students societies, it presents a great example of how youth can develop skills, create networks and most importantly advocate for their beliefs and their home country’s issues.

We have Lily, a young activist with a bright future, who is in discussion with Bara’ah Dalati, our technical lead for Syria. One of the keystones of our switchboard project is intergenerational learning and here it is in practice. Lily is also a volunteer with one of partners in the switchboard project, SCAN UK (The Syrian Charities and Associations Network).

We try to focus on the capabilities of the students in the Syrian Society and  try to shed light on current and recent events after 2011 but not limited to that.
[We are] Bringing a Syrian voice to the SOAS campus so people don’t forget Syria and what is happening in the country.

Listen, learn and share!

Switchboard Podcast 002

Our latest podcast in the switchboard talks series features Hazem Rihawi, the Senior Programs Manager at one of our switchboard partners, the American Relief Coalition for Syria (ARCS), in conversation with Bara’ah, one of our technical leads. It demonstrate the need for advocacy for humanitarian work and explores ARCS’ approach to advocacy by working with policy makers and use of evidence and research. Listen/watch to learn more.

In any government around the world, you have elected policy makers, officials and representatives at any level..who usually dictate policy…so maintaining that constant connection with these officials is important for us to build a better understanding of the situation of the humanitarian crisis which will lead to better support from that country, whether political or financial.

Hazem Rihawi

We can finally announce news of our latest project with USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. During a time when humanitarian needs continue to grow globally, USAID recognizes the importance of supporting diaspora-led innovations that bring in new voices, skills, and abilities to save and improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people

“Business As Usual’ just doesn’t cut it in today’s connected world. Faced with increased crises globally, institutional humanitarian systems have not adjusted to this changing world. THAT is what makes this project even more exciting and pioneering. This project is set to test and incubate new approaches to aid pioneer transformational humanitarian action through a combination of technology and old-fashioned knowledge.”

Bashàïr Ahmed, Shabaka CEO. 

#technology #digitaldiasporas #project #poweringupdiaspora

Youth Consultations

The youth consultation activity is a series of three online consultations initiated to bring youth together, learn from them and collaboratively identify priorities, triggers and links that can inform how they relate to their countries of origin, especially Syria, Sudan and Haiti, and evaluate their interest in humanitarian action.

Additionally, these consultations will provide a diverse, participatory, and safe space for youth from the targeted diaspora to share perspectives on the Switchboard project, which will feed into the next phases of the project, and especially the hackathon.

Beyond the project, we aim to create a community of young practitioners, keen to improve diaspora humanitarianism and act as a youth committee for the Switchboard and future activities.
Register via Eventbrite









Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Sign up here for updates about the development of our Switchboard App.