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Stories from the Nation

Ohana Love: Strategically Creating Positive Impact Initiatives to Unlock Untapped Potential

Miguel, a Program Leader for Remote Year Ohana, saw the potential for Remotes to impact the communities that they were visiting in an even larger way. Here's how he accomplished his Positive Impact goals.

Remote Year communities participate in many monthly events throughout their time on program. There are Tracks™ Events, Plus Events, professional development opportunities, and, of course, opportunities to make a Positive Impact.


Positive Impact events are philanthropic initiatives that allow Remote Year programs to give back to the local communities that have welcomed them with open arms during their stay. These initiatives often have associated fundraising efforts to benefit local organizations. Remote Year communities have given 7,000+ hours of service to more than 80 causes and organizations since the inception of Positive Impact events as a part of the Remote Year platform.


Inside Look: Remote Year Positive Impact events


  • Remote Year Yugen started an initiative to raise $116,000 in order to build homes for communities in need in Bogotá, Colombia.
  • In Sofia, Bulgaria, Remotes  helped create a youth center.
  • Remotes  donated their marketing, fundraising, design, and physical skills to Wildflower Home in Thailand, a non-profit organization that accommodates women and children who have been ostracized from surrounding villages.
  • Fundraising for Sumando Energías was just one part of the Positive Impact event in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Remotes also got together to create solar powered water heaters with the organization for families in need.


Ohana Love

For Miguel, the Program Leader for Remote Year Ohana, Positive Impact was not just something to plan every month, another item to tick off his to do list. He saw an opportunity for his group to make a more profound impact if he could just change his approach.


Miguel knew that by creating a deeper connection between Ohana Remotes and the people they were focused on helping, while tapping into the unique skills and talents that each Remote possessed, he could expand their success. He knew that he could drive Ohana’s Positive Impact events to become small but mighty, sustainable efforts that could eventually help break cycles of poverty or class immobility that had been around for decades.


“What I wanted to express was the importance of tapping into people's unseen potential,” Miguel said. “Remotes are on this life-altering experience and they are all so talented in different ways. I knew that raw passion was enough to positively impact communities, but being strategic about it would produce better results for the community and the Remotes who were a part of the initiative.”


For the first three months of their time on program, Miguel began to help foster Ohana’s love for Positive Impact. He worked to integrate as many Remotes as possible into every initiative in every city, tapping on the shoulders of those he felt had the skills necessary to make each event successful.


His strategic approach to Positive Impact had its most inspiring success during Ohana’s fourth month, when the group brought their passion for Positive Impact work to Belgrade, Serbia.


Benefitting Belgrade

Miguel knew that Belgrade’s Positive Impact event was going to be different from the start. The city was experiencing an influx of refugees as a part of the larger refugee crisis occurring throughout Europe. Miguel identified an instant connection between the refugees who now called Belgrade home, and the Remote Year participants who had left behind their homes to travel the world. The key difference: Remote Year participants were choosing to do so, refugees had no choice.


This was an opportunity for Remote Year participants to use their skills to teach interested refugees about life as a location independent worker, and how they could use “digital nomad” strategies to make an income even when they were displaced from their home countries. Miguel and Irena, Remote Year’s Belgrade City Manager, came up with the idea to host a panel in partnership with Mikser, featuring Remote Year Ohana participants, and, later, a skills-based class that could provide tactical assistance to those who could benefit from it.


“I opened up the event with a description of what the current world looks like in terms of work and how it has dramatically changed globally,” Miguel said. “One of the lines that really stuck with people was, ‘In reality, my office is that laptop you see right there.’”

Remote Year Ohana's How to Become a Digital Nomad Panel in Belgrade Serbia
Remote Year Ohana's How toBecome a Digital Nomad Panel


“Then, we had three amazing Ohana Remotes, Brittany Boswell, Ashleigh Purcell, and Mario Zamora on our panel. We intentionally chose three people from completely different industries, law, market research, and IT, to show the variation of location independent professions.”


“After the panel, we had two break out sessions: Opportunity Through Coding and Utilizing Digital Resources. The event was a success with much interest and engagement from the crowd. The room was full of beautiful chaos because it also happened to be World Refugee Day...what a beautiful day indeed.”


The panel was a success, with the event even being featured in the news by local outlets. Miguel used this as even further motivation to host a follow-up skills-based workshop, led by Ohana Remotes Mario Zamora, Tim Costa, and Antoine Lucas, that would allow interested participants to learn a quick skill that could result in long-term income. This workshop evolved into the Mini Coding Bootcamp.


“We didn’t expect to teach participants every aspect of programming, but more importantly we wanted to give them guidance on how they could use the starter skills they’d learned that day and show them free online resources they could utilize. The lessons were just an introduction to the complex and beneficial world of coding,” Miguel said.


“Another goal we had was to have locals and refugees rub elbows with each other and with members of Remote Year Ohana. That angle aligned with our partner, Mikser’s, ultimate goal to become a community center for all, while helping refugees integrate into Serbian society and everyday life.”

Over the next few months, Miguel was able to witness the ripple effect of Ohana’s Positive Impact efforts. Remote Year Denali, Remote Year Kanyini and Remote Year Aurora held the three consecutive Mini Coding Bootcamps in Serbia, using the template that Miguel created with Ohana.

Remote Year Ohana's How to Become a Digital Nomad Panel in Belgrade Serbia
Mario, Brittany, and Ashleigh speak on the How to Become a Digital Nomad Panel


“Everything was strategic from the very first step,” Miguel said. “Add strategy  to raw passion, and now you have an engine that positively impacts a community!”


Remote Year Positive Impact events were created with the idea that as visitors, Remote Year participants could give back to the communities that welcomed them. Miguel took the concept to the next level by tying together passion, purpose, and strategy to create successful, replicable events that can have lasting results. Though he won’t admit it himself, Miguel’s hard work and dedication to leaving behind a positive impact has been an inspiration for everyone around him - especially Ohana Remotes.


“You painted a vision for people, Miguel,” Mario Zamora, a member of Remote Year Ohana said. “You made me see the value [of Positive Impact events] and I wanted to be a part of it. The engine is you.”

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