The co-founders of a software company in Southern California are donating all proceeds from their latest mobile game to an organization that aides Syrian refugees.
The funds from “Moses the Freedom Fighter” by Ayotree, which was co-founded by brothers Khoa and Chinh Vu, will go to Massachusetts-based nonprofit Oxfam America’s Syria and refugee crisis response fund.
“Just seeing refugees, people being banned form the airport, people being deported — it’s a strange time,” Khoa Vu, 34, told NBC News.
More than a year ago, Khoa Vu and his brother Chinh Vu, 43, began developing the game based on the biblical tale of Moses, who helped Israelites break free from oppression under Egyptian rule.
“It was one of those stories from our childhood our parents always told us … and it was just such a cool story,” Khoa Vu told NBC News.”We watch Moses on ‘The Ten Commandments’ where we might think, ‘What a weird, crazy time that was.’ If you look now, it’s kind of scary: We’re still dealing with the same thing.”
The story of Moses resonates with Vu family, who fled Vietnam as refugees in the late 1970s after the Vietnam War. Khoa Vu was born in the United States, but Chinh Vu was around 5 years old when their father took him on a boat trip to a refugee camp in Malaysia. About a year later, they made it to the United States.
“Moses was the first story about displaced people, being in a foreign land, being a refugee, being oppressed by a group,” Chinh Vu told NBC News. “That was kind of what inspired us to do this.”
When the brothers began developing the game, they focused on telling their “remix” of the story of Moses, they said. But as it approached its final stages, President Donald Trump issued a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries.
“We were about to finish the game when we said, 'Wait a second — this story is very similar to what's happening now.' And not only that, it's things that happened 10, 20, to 30 years ago,” Khoa Vu said.
Ayotree is donating all ad revenue and donations collected through the app and online to Oxfam America. To date, the company has raised more than $1,100 for Oxfam America, it said.
“We were delighted to be chosen by Ayotree as their charity, and we are impressed at their commitment to help draw attention to our humanitarian work," Amy Mullen, director of institutional support for Oxfam America, said in a statement.
Close to 5 million Syrians have fled their country since an uprising against President Bashar Assad erupted in 2011 and escalated into civil war, according to the Associated Press.
The brothers are hoping to raise $10,000 for the fund through the app by World Refugee Day on June 20.
“Moses the Freedom Fighter” pays homage to various arcade games from the ‘80s and ‘90s, including the “Super Mario” franchise and “Tetris.” But Khoa Vu said the app is more than just a game and that there is a message behind it.
“This story is timeless,” he said. “There's a reason why [Gandhi] and Martin Luther King were inspired by the Moses story. We just hope our remix can reach out to people and remind people that we’re all one.”