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CANKUZO PROVINCE, Burundi—Last November, Sedar Zamukulu Watula and 30 other Congolese refugees waited, perched on a circle of wobbly wooden benches in Kavumu Refugee Camp in western Burundi. Watula, 27, sweat in the heat, unusual for the rainy season. He was used to waiting—for food, for soap, for peace in his hometown of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). But this time the wait was different. He’d come to hear a mzungu (white person) talk about a new project that was about to arrive in the camp—the Ideas Box.

Set on a barren plain of 200 acres, Kavumu is Burundi’s fourth and newest refugee camp. It is home to 3,600 refugees, and more arrive each day. With the exception of a few generators and solar panels for the non-profit organizations in the camp, Kavumu is without electricity. Cell...

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