A New Video Game That Sends Food and Medicine to Refugees Beyond the Screen

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Lual Mayen wasn’t old enough to walk when he fled South Sudan with his family to a refugee camp in northern Uganda, where he lived for 22 years. Food was scarce. School didn’t exist. “It was not an easy journey…I lost two of my sisters,” he said.

By the time he was 15, he saw his first computer in passing, and over the next three years, his mother worked to secretly save cash to buy him one. “I couldn’t believe that it was real,” he said in a story powerfully reported by Ryan Bergeron. “Where can I even charge the computer? Where can I even go and learn?…There was nobody that could train me.”

Mayen walked three hours to the nearest basecamp to charge the computer. “If [my mother] was able to take us from a war-torn country to an environment of a refugee, I can also make it,” he said. He taught himself to code and design, and he set out to create a game that promotes conflict resolution, first running it over Bluetooth and then posting to Facebook. “That was the first time I started connecting with the video game community and getting support.”

His game took off. He’s now the founder of Junub Games, which is ready to release “Salaam” (“peace” in Arabic), a mobile game that puts players in the shoes of refugee runners. Through nonprofits, he’s arranging to provide food, water, and medicine to people in refugee camps whenever a player buys supplies in the game.

A Recharge salute to Mayen and his mother, and to Bergeron for the story and images.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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