By Allan Olingo
Seven years ago, the Mikkelson brothers – David and Christopher – met Mansour, a young Afghanistan refugee who had lost contact with family after escaping from the Taliban during the height of chaos in their country
The brothers met young Mansour at a refugee camp in Denmark. David and Christopher’s attention was grabbed by Mansour. Interested in the boy, they sought to know his story through a translator.
It had taken Mansour four months on a journey through Russia and across eastern Europe to get to the camp in Copenhagen.
Mansour told the brothers that his only wish was to reconnect with his family. He looked at them as the angels who had visited him in the camp with the power to fulfil his wish.
Touched by his story, the Mikkelson brothers offered to help him find his family. Immediately, they contacted the various refugee organisations that work in their country.
And in trying to help Mansour, they discovered a huge gap in reconnecting refugees.
“While helping Mansour search for his family, we discovered that existing family tracing programmes were lacking in using collaborative technology. Paper forms completed meant little information was shared across agencies, across borders or across conflicts,” says David.
It took six years for the brothers to bring Mansour good news – they reunited him with his brother in Moscow last year.
The happiness that this brother to Mansour, David and Christopher was so great that the brothers wanted to do more to help others find this happiness. David and Christopher went ahead to found Refugees United, to ease the burden of refugees tracing their loved ones.
“We knew the refugees needed to find a better way to find their family members. The world has hundreds of thousands of refugees who desperately wanted to reconnect with long-lost relatives and friends,” says David.
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