The Portraits of Refugee Coders Are Cleverly Hidden in the Websites of the Companies They Work For

72andSunny Amsterdam executed the creative campaign with HackYourFuture

This coder's image can be found in the source code of backbase.com. 72andSunny Amsterdam / HackYourFuture
Headshot of Mitch Reames

The programming in our devices powers our daily lives. But coding seems like a foreign language to most people. In many ways, it is.
HackYourFuture is a nonprofit that teaches a group of people to code who are often already burdened with learning a new language: refugees.
The process of rebuilding their lives as refugees is arduous. HackYourFuture helps them find a new line of work, and not only survive but thrive in a lucrative industry crucial to their new country.
HackYourFuture partnered with 72andSunny Amsterdam to showcase the success stories of the program and inspire more refugees to take up coding. “Behind the Source” shines a light on the refugees who have played crucial parts in building some of the biggest websites in the world—using the language they specialize in.

These images are hidden in the code of the websites where HackYourFuture graduates now work. Accenture, eBay and Zivver all have these hidden portraits sitting in the source of their websites. To access them, go to one of the companies’ homepages, right click, then hit View Page Source.
Zivver features Syrian refugee Sarea Al Kebaky. While in Syria, he was studying computer science. But when the Syrian war broke out, he knew he had to leave.
“I left Syria because the army forced me to carry a gun, and I didn’t want to carry a gun,” Sarea said. “I wanted to learn how to code. The code doesn’t care who writes it; it brings people together.”

72andSunny Amsterdam did the work pro bono to lift up the people in society who need help most, while providing tech companies with a diverse group of potential employees.
“It was great to partner up with HackYourFuture and help reframe the conversation around refugees in The Netherlands,” said Laura Visco, deputy ecd of 72andSunny Amsterdam. “The intimate interviews we had with the graduates really moved us. We were curious to hear what they went through, and we are excited to see what the future holds for them.”
Perhaps most importantly, this reframes how people see refugees. Instead of a partisan issue that seeps with vitriol, the campaign focuses on individuals and shows what can happen when we uplift people and empower them to become valuable parts of their new countries.
“Not only did [72andSunny Amsterdam] help us to advertise our brand more effectively, but to tell the stories of our students in a dignified manner,” said Wouter Kleijn, managing director of HackYourFuture. “These are real people, with real stories. But how do you communicate these in such a way that goes beyond the average feel-good campaign? How do you avoid victimization and stigmatization when the subjects are refugees, [often] burdened by stereotypes? With ‘Behind the Source’ they’ve shown what advertising done right can do for a world with a little bit more equity and justice.”

CREDITS:

Client: HackYourFuture
Creative Agency: 72andSunny Amsterdam
Production: Hecho Studios
Sound: Stainless Sound


Mitch Reames is a freelance writer based in southern Oregon. A 2017 graduate of the University of Oregon school of journalism and communications, Reames covers a wide range of industry topics including creativity, agencies, brands, esports and more.