REFUNITE is a nonprofit tech organization whose mission is to reconnect refugee families across the globe with missing loved ones.

Helping REFUNITE Reconnect Families

It is the core of what many of us take for granted that keeps the staff at REFUNITE working so hard: family. REFUNITE’s mission is to reconnect refugee families across the globe, and it does this by empowering families to connect using simple technology.

REFUNITE uses a global platform that serves some of the world’s most disconnected people across East Africa, the Middle East, and it is continuing to expand its reach into some of the world’s crisis hot spots for displacements.

Technology in these areas is one of the challenges for REFUNITE, but there is also the added complexity of language issues, with many of the displaced persons speaking only one language. All aspects of REFUNITE’s service not only have to be incredibly simple and intuitive to the users, but they need to speak to these people in their native tongues. If not, they will find it increasingly difficult to find their lost loved ones.

Belle and Marie

Belle and Marie, two sisters currently living in a Kenyan refugee camp, believed for eleven years that their sister Julienne had died in her attempt to flee their war-torn country, the DRC – until the REFUNITE mobile platform reconnected the three, and Belle and Marie discovered that Julienne was living safely in the United States.

Localization is one of the key elements REFUNITE has drawn on to help its cause, and Transifex was only too happy to provide its products and services.

REFUNITE’s family tracing service is not only accessible via web, but – more importantly – also via simple channels like SMS in order to empower displaced people without internet access. Reconnections are often made among people who are displaced across borders and use different devices to access the platform.

“REFUNITE has done much fieldwork and data analysis to understand target populations and localizing the service is an ongoing process that takes center stage in providing a valuable service to displaced populations around the globe,” says REFUNITE’s Co-CEO Christopher Mikkelsen.

Transifex was able to alleviate a lot of the cumbersome issues associated with the translations.

The REFUNITE website and all its mobile apps are the main entry points for its online users looking for missing family members. Due to the diversity of incomes and geographical locations between REFUNITE users, a localized website is pivotal. REFUNITE estimates that its website gets up to 20,000 visitors on a monthly basis.

“Because it is a smooth web-based product that eliminates isolated documents of translations and rigid solutions, using Transifex saved us a lot of time,” Christopher Mikkelsen says.

“By localizing our service the majority of our user base can be reached in their preferred language. Most users are unilingual and would have no chance of using the REFUNITE service without it being translated into their native tongue.”

With Transifex’s support, the result is a great user experience, in addition to time and money saved by REFUNITE.

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