By Kelli Hogan
Editor’s Note: Kelli Hogan, a marketing manager at Google, was a member of the 12-person NetHope Team K deployment to Greece and its official mission storyteller.
Drama, Greece — Children lie, giggling and wiggling, on the floor surrounded by paper and markers. They're making art, an activity facilitated by Solidarity Now, a UNICEF Blue Dot agency dedicated to providing social and health services to mothers and children in refugee camps throughout Greece.
"Will we have Wi-Fi today?" ask several staff members as they invite me in. Beaming with excitement at the prospect of imminent connectivity, the team gives me a tour of the child-friendly space, baby corner, and breastfeeding room. The Solidarity Team, made up of teachers, psychiatrists, social workers, and an interpreter, work to advise and support refugee mothers and children on how to navigate the asylum process, provide psychological support for anxiety and stress, and organize social and physical activities.
Kids are always eager to join in on the painting, free play, and athletics. "We are glad for the love that children show us,” said one staff member.
Working with the mothers is equally rewarding, but it can take a little longer for the mothers to feel comfortable participating and opening up. Solidarity Now often uses activities such as knitting, jewelry making, and group exercise to encourage the mothers to share their feelings and experiences.
The Solidarity Now team relies on free Wi-Fi to keep its operation running. They consult online public service resources to stay informed about the asylum process and ever-changing regulations and policies. They also share learnings and best practices with other groups in their organization. Reliable connectivity allows the team to communicate more effectively and operate more smoothly, leaving them more time to focus on what they love: working directly with mothers and children.
The NetHope-led Syrian Refugee Connectivity Alliance was made possible by the support of Cisco, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, The Patterson Foundation, and UNHCR.