I am sure we have all witnessed the young new mother who looks down at her right on the floor and spins around at break-neck speed only to find her toddler had tottered to her left side. Swooping down, she envelops the confused child:
"Oh my GOD!! Don't you ever scare mummy like that again okay?"
Imagine, turning to your left and then your right and all you can see is the mass of crowds of people as shocked and scared and exhausted as you, marching away from the plumes of smoke that used to be your village.
Your children cannot be seen, your husband, your wife, mother and father all lost in the crowd. Screaming will not do anything as everyone is screaming and if they're not it's because exhaustion has robbed their body from being able to do anything but take just one more step, one more step, until they reach safety.
As the sun begins to set and the herd that you are reduced to settles for some rest, shock will not allow you brain to access where you last saw your family. Fear and memories merge into one, to the point where you have no idea whether your child is alive or dead; if your father was still in the village or in that massive group ahead of you.
We always talk about War in terms of regime change and soldiers and oil and political posturing but no matter the end result, in every war zone- be it Iraq, Afghanistan or the Congo or Libya, there are those who have never lifted or weapon but these tend to be the forgotten refugees.
The displaced. Those that end up at best alone and traumatised, forever wondering if they're loved ones are even alive.
Brothers David and Christopher Mikkelsen have chosen to help those countless forgotten refugees. Their organisation, Refugees United, uses mobile phones and the internet in a very simple yet innovative way to bring families back in touch with one another. "There's only one thing that keeps you rooted in this world, and that's family" - The words of co-founder Christopher Mikkelsen show that this organisation is built on a deep-rooted ethos. After helping a young Afghan refugee in Mansoor find his brother in 2005, the brothers found their calling.
At the moment, Refugees United is using its know how and technical ability to work with UNHCR Uganda in order to work with the nameless and massive refugee populations in the country. Video
People create a profile and enter the details that they feel comfortable with: initials, date of birth, place of birth and a common piece of knowledge you share with your loved ones; as well as contact information. Anyone who has ever been in a refugee camp will tell you that there is a lot of waiting around and frustration. This whole process empowers refugees with a means to play an active role in finding their families.
Refugees United, as David Mikkelsen puts it, are "aiming to marry the structure and strategy of private sector companies and marry it with the passion of NGOs" in order to create a tool that was firstly for refugee but also a valuable tool for organisations that work with.
The Second World War, though atrocious gave birth to the mass production of penicillin. Maybe, in this awful age of African civil wars; endless campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq; and Arab Springs; Refugees United will be the penicillin of the 21st Century.
If Refugees United can achieve it's simple yet massive goal of "re-connecting thousands of families" then there may truly be refuge from war and a hope for a better world.
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