Our Story

Part 1

In 1997 our founder, Henry Warren, was teaching in Uganda, Africa. When the school he was teaching in was burnt down in a riot, Henry made a promise to help rebuild the school by replacing all the lost books. Henry and his friend Marsha set up our charity to do just that - they called it Africa Bookcase.

Part 2

We started shipping used books from schools in the UK to the school that burned down in Uganda. Soon we were supplying books to dozens of schools across the country. As we did this, the children started asking questions: Where were these books coming from? Where are they going to? Even questions like What language do they speak? What religion do they follow? We immediately saw the value in getting these children learning from each other, it was clear that it helped avoid cultural misunderstanding, bullying and even conflict.

“They (adults) have already made their mind up. To stop wars you have to start with kids. They haven’t decided yet.”

Year 8 Student during the Gemin-i ‘Roadmap to Peace Project’

Part 3

We wanted to find a way that the children around the world could talk to each other and learn about each others’ cultures and beliefs directly. However, we couldn’t afford to fly children and there were logistical difficulties surrounding traditional pen-pal schemes because postal services in many countries were often slow and unreliable.

So, as a solution to connecting these children and building cross-cultural understanding, we started using the internet, and we explored new and exciting ways of using this technology.

Part 4

Unfortunately, using the internet was not easy because connectivity in Africa and the developing world was often slow and unreliable. To help overcome this issue we developed our very own computer software that would work on the oldest computers and the slowest internet connections. It was a cutting edge social network just for schools. It included tools such as chat rooms, forums and even video conferencing…

Part 5

Pupils could, for the first time, talk to other students across the world about issues that mattered to them - and all in a fully safe and moderated environment.

We called this community Rafi.ki (the Swahili word for friend).

Part 6

Rafi.ki also contained dozens of lesson plans and projects to study online, focusing on topics including global health issues like malaria, and HIV and Aids and others such as climate change and human rights. We created these projects in partnership with other experts such as the Medicines San Frontieres, Plan International, The Red Cross, and Oxfam.

We had children learning about Fair Trade by talking live to pupils in Ghana and conflict resolution by working with others in Iraq and Palestine. And it really worked…

Part 7

Children came up with ways that they could help to combat pressing issues together, taking action in their own communities and promoting positive change around the globe.

Independent evaluations have shown that over 80% of the children on Rafi.ki have dramatically increased their knowledge of global issues. They have also improved many of their key skills too, such as communication, literacy and IT skills.

“Brighter Children = Brighter Future”

Part 8

Before we knew it we were using Rafi.ki to connect schools in over a hundred countries. We stopped providing text books and changed our name to Gemin-i, after the Latin word for twins.

Part 9

Our aim moving forward is to have more impact on the education of young people around the globe. To do this we need to establish more collaborative partnerships, create more of the best educational projects and involve as many of the world’s children as possible.

We are currently looking at ways in which we can use innovative technology and connectivity solutions to enable children in remote areas to connect and learn with other students around the world. These include developing mobile phone technology and offline versions. If you would like to find out more then please get in touch.

“Rafiki is the perfect place to share ideas – my hopes for the future are that everyone will be equal and that third countries will be lifted out of poverty.”
UK Student on Rafi.ki, 2008.

Connect, Learn, Change

Mission, Vision, Values


To empower, educate and inspire young people through developing and implementing innovative and accessible web-based solutions, and by using collaborative learning environments to facilitate the exchange of ideas between them.


To ensure future generations understand and experience diversity across the world and that through education, young people will comprehend the nature of conflict arising through lack of understanding.


  • We pride ourselves in developing and delivering quality programs and services.
  • We are responsive to the needs of stakeholders.
  • We value young people’s voices and believe in their capacity to promote change.
  • We believe in the potential of innovative ICT usage to bridge the digital divide.
  • We believe in dispelling cultural myths and stereotypes through communication.
  • We strive to work with other organisations rather than in competition with them.
  • We work at giving disadvantaged or excluded groups a voice.
  • We embrace open, honest and effective communication.
  • We value the essential contributions of staff and volunteers.
  • We embrace change and pursue rigour in our actions.
  • We respond to external environments and continually seek ways to improve.

Meet the Team


Simon Carruth

Simon is the Interim Chief Executive and Finance Director at Gemin-i.

As Chief Executive, Simon leads the management team and the staff as a whole, ensuring Gemin-i follows the policies and strategies agreed by the Board of Trustees, ensuring overall co-ordination of our activities, supporting the Trustees in carrying out their duties.

As Finance Director, Simon ensures Gemin-i stays healthy financially, preparing budgets, monitoring and approving expenditure, preparing accounts, leading on Human resources issues and premises issues, directly managing staff who work in these areas.

Simon enjoys lots of music: Blues, Folk, Flamenco, Country, Rock, World… Simon loves going to live gigs and also plays acoustic guitar. He is into tattoo art and has some gorgeous tats himself. Simon likes doing crossword, sudoku and other pointless puzzles.




Lisa Ommanney

Lisa is the Head of Events at Gemin-i.

Lisa manages Gemin-i’s fundraising events which consist of Sumo Run London, Sumo Run Manchester, Sucata Budapest, Sucata Run and Sucata Split.

Lisa is part-time at Gemin-i and focus’s on scriptwriting for the rest of the week. Lisa also likes cooking and eating….and cooking some more.




Juliet Allen

Juliet is the Trusts and Statutory Fundraiser at Gemin-i.

Juliet researches, prepares and submits applications to grant making trusts and statutory funders. This involves working closely with the programmes team to get information about projects and budgets.

Juliet likes being on a trapeze, riding her bike, reading books, running really fast towards the sea (only works on beaches), camping, music, going to festivals, current affairs and volunteering.





Patricia Macleod

Patricia is the Partnerships and Development Manager at Gemin-i.

Patricia manages the tribes Project

Patricia loves learning new languages and has studied lots of them at university (Arabic, French, German, Farsi, Korean, British Sign Language). She enjoys travelling too and has lived and worked in Tanzania, Syria, China, Sweden and The Netherlands. In addition, Patricia has been Ballroom and Latin dancing for many years and has recently got into Salsa too.




David Williams

David is the Sales and Membership Officer at Gemin-i.

David sells Rafi.ki and Kidogo to schools in the U.K. and beyond. David also manages school subscriptions.

David likes Metallica, Question Time, sunshine, Liverpool F.C., Pearl Jam, Porridge, Festivals and Tennis




Matt Legg

Matt is the Director of IT and Programmes at Gemin-i.

Matt manages the Programmes and I.T. Teams, including managing training and development, site safety, and ensuring the needs of our Partner organisations are met through the Rafi.ki platform.

Matt is widely travelled, and is a huge fan of live music, literature, European cinema and theatre. He loves meeting new people.





Rachel Witton

Rachel is the Rafi.ki Co-ordinator at Gemin-i.

Rachel manages the secondary schools online community; Rafi.ki and liases with teachers and students on the site. Rachel also manages the educational content on the site (apart from the HIV360 project).

Rachel likes teaching, learning, languages, travelling, music, surfing, walking, mountain biking, reading and geeky stuff.




Ester Monfort Martinez

Ester is the Kidogo Co-ordinator at Gemin-i.

Ester manages the primary school online community; Kidogo. Currently Ester is in charge of the Blood Diamonds project for primary schools and is also in charge of the CISCO project.

Ester was born in Barcelona and her mother tongue languages are Catalan and Spanish. In her free time Ester enjoys travelling, swimming, cycling, going out with family and friends to eat and sometimes singing Karaoke.





Rebecca Rieley

Rebecca is the Online Learning Development Co-ordinator at Gemin-i.

Rebecca co-ordinates all the technical developments on Rafi.ki and Kidogo so a lot of her time is spent speaking with our tech whizz Adam and the Programmes Team. Rebecca also works with Patricia to facilitate Tribes on both communities and this means she will be speaking to lots of organisations outside Gemin-i to help implement exciting ways that they can work with us

Rebecca is an avid explorer of all things foodie and enjoys eating out (a lot). Rebecca also likes to run around during the week playing Netball and is currently trying to get back into running. At the weekends, Rebecca loves exploring the markets around London.




Jo Seth-Smith

Jo is the YAX Programmes Manager at Gemin-i.

Jo manages the YAX (HIV360) project on Rafi.ki

Jo loves being outside, singing and chatting to friends.





Jessica Aumann

Jessica is the YAX Co-ordinator at Gemin-i.

Jessica works with Jo and Alfonso on the HIV360 Project. She is polishing up the content on the website, working to create some campaigns to encourage young people to be active and tell their views to policy makers. A core part of Jessica’s role is to encourage teachers to become part of the project and get their students involved in HIV360.

Jessica has studied Politics and Theology. Jessica also worked on two international development projects (with teacher, educators and then with community health care workers in Africa) at the Open University for two years before coming to Gemin-i. In Jessica’s last job, she was lucky enough to work for a few weeks in Malawi, Ethiopia and South Africa.

Jessica loves cooking, going to markets, gigs and plays in London, cycling around, country walks, sunshine, new things and travelling. Her last exciting trip was overland from London to Saigon via Russia and China.






Alfonso Redondo

Alfonso is the YAX Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator at Gemin-i.

Alfonso is responsible for marketing, which entails getting new schools onto Rafi.ki through: use of social media; attending events and conferences; contacting media outlets as well as schools and teachers.

Alfonso is originally Spanish but grew up outside of Spain in Latin America and Switzerland. Having grown up in Switzerland he is an avid skier and enjoys the mountains.