This month’s resident feature is all about Shabaka and our new residents Bashair Ahmed and Sara Badri. Shabaka is a social enterprise using technology to enhance "diaspora humanitarianism", with a vision of security and prosperity for everyone. Established in 2014, Shabaka is a value-driven, diaspora-led consulting and research organisation focused on diaspora humanitarian preparedness, response and recovery. Their mission is to fight social and humanitarian injustices that often leave entire communities disadvantaged and shut off from socio-economic and political progress.  

‘Diaspora’ is the dispersion of people from their country of origin or a community formed by people who have exited or been removed from their homeland. 

After exploring different spaces in Brighton that would help facilitate their projects, the FuseBox are thrilled to welcome Shabaka’s CEO, Bashair Ahmed and Research and Project Officer, Sara Badri. 

Eager to learn more about Shabaka and our new residents, we caught up with Bashair and Sara. With over 20 years’ working with United Nations agencies and international organisations, Bashair’s focus surrounds migration, human rights and humanitarian action. Fluent in both English and Arabic, she has consulted on a wide range of migration, humanitarian and diaspora initiatives. Bashair has been involved in the protection of migrants; developing e-training on humanitarian principles; and providing guidance on diaspora engagement in humanitarian response. 

Holding a doctorate in Migration Studies from the University of Sussex, Bashair lives locally in Brighton and loves coffee.Sara’s focus is on cultural studies, digital media, diaspora and migratory groups with an emphasis on national and cultural identity formation both on and offline. She has a MA in Media and Cultural Studies, a BA in Visual Communication and has worked with multiple diaspora groups in the UK on research projects and as a volunteer.Sara loves discovering and exploring new places, meeting people and storytelling in one of her three languages; Arabic, English and Turkish.

What do you enjoy most about what you do? 

Our work covers various regions and cultures, and one of the main areas we are focusing on during this period is the use of technology and digital media in diaspora engagement and humanitarian action. What I enjoy the most about what I do is examining the stories and shared diasporic experiences by interviewing diaspora members on how they form and develop identities, and how they make sense of their cultural identity, belonging, race and ethnicity, language, nationalism, and similar areas. As a member of the diaspora, I find it interesting how people shape and re-shape their identities and notions in relation to influences from their country of origin and other diasporas.

What are you looking forward to the most about being a resident at the FuseBox?

We’re excited about our upcoming hybrid Hackathon, which will take place at the FuseBox in October 2022. We will be working with Chris Chowen, resident Innovation and Technology Manager to deliver this online live hackathon with people in the US and across multiple time zones.

Where do you source your inspiration from?

The Brighton Festival was a great opportunity to explore exhibitions related to our work. I attended two events that were very inspiring to write about. The first event was a talk by Marwah Al Sabouni discussing her books and Riwaq installation, Rebuilding Cities: Riwaq at the Brighton Festival 2022. The second was Journeys from an Absent Present to a Lost Past, an exhibition at Fabrica Gallery by Mohamad Hafez.

Can you explain what you’ve been working on recently?

Recently we have been working on the Switchboard project, an innovative project designed by and for the diaspora. Switchboard aims to bridge the generational divide between older and younger diaspora generations to strengthen the continuity of efforts in humanitarian action, by using technology. Shabaka’s Switchboard Youth Consultation uses technology to enhance diaspora humanitarianism. Funded by USAID, the project aims to challenge older methods in the humanitarian sector to create a greater impact on communities and their people. The initiative aims to bridge the generational divide between older and younger diaspora generations to strengthen humanitarian action and its efforts through technology. 

Sharing the FuseBox’s values in connectivity, innovation and collaboration, the team are so excited to see what the future holds for this wonderful organisation and the Switchboard Youth Consultation project. If you’re a social enterprise, start-up, creative or technologist and are interested in finding out more about becoming a resident at the FuseBox, get in touch today, or book in for a tour.

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