a portfolio by bernice wong


Makāna is a digital platform for refugee communities to search and share news, events, and jobs—even without Internet access or cellular data. Displaced migrant communities around the world can use it to overcome communication challenges that prevent them from having their basic psychological and social needs fulfilled.


Makāna draws inspiration from Craigslist. It enables refugees to find and share opportunities for work on a channel that is shared only between members of their community. It works by allowing for user posted inquiries, enabling the sending and receiving of responses publically, and integrating direct messaging, though which individuals can reply to one another privately.


The app interface has been intentionally designed to be minimal: for low-cost, low-expenditure use. As the app relies on mesh networks to function, it also does not rely on expensive infrastructure—making it additionally accessible to refugee communities.



Makāna came to be through designing for the theme of connection: specifically, how individuals in various communities feel connected to one another. I began by exploring the capacity of physical warmth to affect community development. As I extrapolated the theme of connection away from the urban environments with which I was familiar, I developed the app as it stands today.

An exploration of graffiti art as advertising in suburban environments. Poem by Nayyirah Waheed.