Going High-Tech for Syrian Refugees – Jonathan Yee co-founds Ahlain


Jonathan Yee, a committed Youth representative within the Global RCE Network attached to RCE Saskatchewan, Canada, member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and a strong advocate on sustainability issues, recently co-founded Ahlain - an educational platform that aims to address the challenges Canada is facing by the escalating influx of refugees.

Ahlain is an educational information communication technology (ICT) social start-up that focuses on helping Syrian refugees by providing educational videos essential for the integration of Syrian families into Canadian society. These videos are disseminated through a mobile application, an accompanying website, and various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Essentially it aims to strengthen the integration of refugees in their host countries.

As an educational tool, Ahlain is able to directly send accurate, accountable, and dependable information to the user by partnering with stakeholder organizations and individual experts. The Calgary Transit video is a good example that shows how to use public transportation in Calgary.

Ahlain has partnered with the award winning technology company Mobovivo to develop a mobile application that can be downloaded at no cost. The application will run on both, Android and Apple platforms. The high quality videos Jonathan and the Ahlain team have created so far are engaging and concise. Each video focuses on a single theme, ranging from topics that affect people locally to ones that apply nationally. The videos are delivered in Arabic with English subtitles, or in English with Arabic subtitles.

Ahlain has been appointed to the “Calgary Welcoming Subcommittee for Syrian Refugees” along with first-contact organizations. They meet once every two weeks to discuss gaps, align priorities, brainstorm, exchange ideas, and explore partnerships. These meetings have been extremely useful and allowed Jonathan and his social start-up to forge partnerships with the Fire and Police Departments, the Calgary Zoo, and many other organizations in creating videos for refugee integration.

“Meeting one of the families at the airport was very humbling. Among us were at least twenty others, each person holding a sign of welcome or a handful of candy. Children were holding balloons and shuffling restlessly. Together, we all waited to welcome a family we had never met. The sliding doors opened to reveal a family of six and the group of us cheered. The family looked at us, uncertain and tired. When they registered our smiles, they seemed to glow from within. They walked towards us; their figures were small, the children looking almost frail. We gathered around them and felt their joy. Our eyes welled up as we realized how much it meant for them to be here, a place where they would have peace. They still have many challenges ahead, but we hope to help them on their journey.”

Visit Ahlain for more videos!