In the US it is very obvious that we are all immigrants, many of whom are refugees or the offspring of refugees. As an ex-pat living in Europe, we don’t have to look very far back in history (the Balkan wars, World War 2) to remind ourselves of the huge waves of humanity that were forced by war to find new homes in Europe and abroad.
Today there are wars in other parts of the world that are creating similar mass movements of people, heartache and loss. Refugees are streaming into Europe with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and if they are lucky, a mobile phone to help them navigate this dangerous journey. We should remember that once we were like them, part of another wave.
In the face of these heartbreaking images, I felt impotent. Everything I could think of to help seemed like a drop in a huge ocean of suffering. This is one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time. There are 59 million refugees in the world, 12 million displaced from Syria alone, fleeing war, famine and poverty.
Aid organizations are stretched to their limits. The scale of the refugee problem is testing their traditional methods of distributing aid. This is where technology can help.
A couple of weeks ago I realized that the thing we do best here at Digital Fan Clubs, is the thing that is most needed by these refugees. By creating the Refugee Aid App – a single source of information and resources and a single interface for aid organizations to make their resources available – we could harness our technology to solve a huge problem.
Last week we began tweaking our Content and Communication Management System so hundreds of NGOs (non-governmental aid organizations) and charities can create posts in the Refugee Aid App, tagged by location and type of aid. They can send push notifications to people in a specific location to tell them what aid is nearest them.
This week with the support of some of the largest refugee aid organizations in the world, NGOs and charities will begin using our system to tell refugees wherever they are (by city or by geo-location) what help is available to them where they are. In the next week or two the app will go live to refugees! By working with volunteers and aid workers on the ground, we’ll be able to let refugees all over Europe know to download this free app and how to use it to navigate to where there is food, shelter, medical aid, legal and asylum information and much more.
We are a small private company and are donating all of the technology, using our platform to create and maintain the app. We are doing this because it needs to be done. It is much faster for a private company to launch this kind of initiative quickly and efficiently than for a non-profit company. But we do need a little help from our friends. We have launched an IndieGoGo campaign to help us hire some part time people to help us on-board the dozens of aid organizations who will use this system. These refugees need our help now. If you can help us help them by making a small contribution, we would be so grateful.
While we normally serve clients whose community is joined by passion for art, music, or some common interest, in the last 6 months we have done a kind of soft pivot. We haven’t moved completely away from building fan clubs (we’ll be here when you’re ready to take back your power), but we have moved in the direction powering other types of communities. With our platform can instantly create mobile apps and websites for any type of community – customers of startups or mature companies, university students, employees. The types of communities that need a private social network are endless.
This time our client is the entire community of refugees and the aid organizations that serve them. This time we are aligning ourselves with this new wave of humans who are coming to our shores, neighborhoods and communities, not because they want to, but because they have nowhere else to go. We want to be there to help them, as we were all helped by someone before us.