By Madeline Kane, Google.org
Emma Eggink, of the Starfish Foundation, has seen many thousands of refugees land on the north shore of Lesvos: “The first thing people ask when they arrive is, ‘Where can I get Wi-Fi?’”
Seated at the Captain’s Table restaurant in Molyvos, Emma and I ordered a coffee and logged onto the NetHope network. Waves washed over the harbor a few meters away - the same waves that have carried more than 500,000 refugees to the shores of the Greek islands since October 2015.
NetHope installed Wi-Fi at both the Captain’s Table and Oxy camp, a volunteer-run shelter built to host refugees before they continued on to register in Mytilini. Eggink estimated that at its peak, Oxy camp hosted 6,000 refugees recovering from treacherous sea crossings. She and her team aimed to provide them with a place to rest, while NetHope provided connectivity so that they could find essential information and message family members that they had survived.
One story stands out to Eggink: “I watched one refugee get online to tell her family she was safe. She immediately saw a message that another boat was sinking on its way to Lesvos. She alerted the Coast Guard, and the passengers were rescued.”
Just beyond the harbor, the remains of a wooden boat used to transport refugees lay battered on the rocks. A row of bleached beams arch like the spine of some beached sea creature. Molyvos has not forgotten the thousands of migrants who have passed through its harbor, and the community here is wired and ready to receive more.
This post is part of an ongoing series of stories from NetHope's work in Greece to provide connectivity to refugees.