The T-shirts created by the New Zealand social enterprise Youth Butterflies use both design and technology to share refugees‘ stories, with the aim of encouraging understanding and integration as well as raising money that can then be used to promote entrepreneurship and employment for younger people who have had adverse life experiences.

Youth Butterflies was founded by Yobithan Rajaratnam (in the white T-shirt) and Millad Rashidi (in the black T-shirt), and was an idea from a group of young refugees who had been involved in organising workshops in a resettlement camp in Auckland.

“When we revisited the place we were years before, we discussed making integration much better for newly arriving refugees to New Zealand,“ explains Yobithan. “Most often, strangers are strangers when you don‘t know their stories. Storytelling can remove the stigma around refugees and help our society be socially conscious about refugees‘ life journeys.”

There are two designs currently available – Moon and Stars, and Paper Boat – each of which represents a story told by refugees. The T-shirts each feature a QI code that when scanned takes the user to the full story: Moon and Stars is based on the recollection of a five-year-old crossing the border from Sudan to Chad, a journey that was made at night to avoid being caught, while Paper Boat is Yobithan‘s story about surviving for 45 days in an over-crowded boat crossing the Pacific Ocean.

The group is now working on an augmented reality app, reports Yobithan, to allow consumers to read and interact with the stories simply by scanning the T-shirts.

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