We were inspired by BBC's refugee phone takeover - we understood that phones and information are critical to a refugee's success in reaching a new location. We also were inspired by the lack of empathy for refugees on the media, and wanted an easy integrative way for people to include caring for refugees in their lives -- by sending a text.
What it does
Refug.ai is chat bot that simulates a refugee's journey from a war-torn country to a new life. The user gives advice to solve problems as they arise through his/her journey. The fate of the refugee is dependant on decisions of the user. Refug.ai builds empathy and an emotional connection to what is means to be a refugee. We were inspired by the stories of people in our communities and reached out to them to make sure we were accurately representing a refugee's journey. With more innovation, we can bring communities closer together, and empathize with the struggle of friends in our communities.
How I built it
We used the Twilio API for the input and output layer on top of a wit.ai created narrative.
Challenges I ran into
We originally tried hosting the script on a cloud-based service, but had a lot of trouble getting that to work, so we ended up hosting it locally behind ngrok.
We also had a really hard time dealing with user nonsense and looping it back to the narrative.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I'm glad we added a donations link at the end of the game simulation. We are going to link the donations to UNHCR and IOM to tangibly increase the impact that this story has.
What I learned
We learned that tech has the capability of connecting us to the lives and struggles of other people, and that .json is a pain.
What's next for Refug.ai
We're going to finish the entire storyline, add time stamps, add a Messenger bot and make it a long and fully formed story.