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Houston nonprofit launches app to provide important tools to refugees

AIM to AID, a nonprofit founded by Houston high school students, is launching an app to provide critical tools for refugees. Photo via Canva

A nonprofit founded by high school students in Houston is looking to provide tools to refugees at their fingertips.

AIM to AID, founded by children of immigrants to help ease the transition of immigrants and refugees to the United States, has announced the launch of its Merhaba app. The platform was created to be another tool for refugees in immersion through the convenience of a smartphone. The app is launching by March for Google Play and Apple.

Merhaba, which means “hi” in Arabic and is a general Middle Eastern greeting, aims to connect refugees to resources they need to be successful in the face of culture shock, and address any present day struggles a refugee would have when making the transition to a new life. Some of the features will include translation services, prayer compass to show Muslims the accurate direction in which to pray, and a halal finder for those to find businesses close to them that serve food that fits certain religious and dietary needs. The app also includes a tracker to find Mosques, Islamic and general clothing, bus stations, parks, banks, hospitals, and governmental offices.

The Houston-based organization was started by Lamar High School senior Ibraheem Razouki and DeBakey High School senior Zane Asadi, and is now in three continents with over 25 chapters internationally.

The first version of the app is tailored to Middle Eastern refugees, which makes the app unique in the marketplace. AIM to AID hopes as the app and the program grows, the features of the app will expand to serve the needs of diverse refugee populations.

Razouki came to the U.S. as a migrant during the Iraq war and recalls the struggle as a child to fit in because these resources weren’t available and the desperation that came with it. The application will provide mandatory needs and services to assist those of Middle Eastern and Muslim background with everyday needs.

“A lot of the needs that are being addressed in the app is a way of life for some of the refugees since they are deeply integrated into their religion, which is part of their identity,” says Razouki. ”Just having these conveniences at your disposable can enhance their way of life.”

In April, Ibraheem and other members of AIM to AID are going to Congress to pitch the application as a winner of the Congressional App Challenge.

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