After spending months installing wifi access points across the Jungle last year, we had to take down our equipment when half the camp was bulldozed.
So we went for a different approach and installed mobile wifi in the Refugee Info Bus so they can drive around the camp providing internet…bulldoze proof!!!
Tribe member Beatrice Lily Lorigan told us about three Eritrean brothers she met the first week there was wifi on the bus.
“The bus had driven into the camp at midday, and parked by the bridge, where the signal seems to be best. The bus was soon surrounded by the usual crowd of smiling faces brandishing smart phones; wifi bus meant family time!
After about half an hour I felt a small hand on my arm..
I looked down into the faces of two little bambinos;
“my friend, my friend..laptop, laptop?” They gestured to the computer in my lap, smiling eagerly…
Unlike many of the people surrounding the bus, these two boys didn’t have phones to call their loved ones.
I helped the two boys into the front seat of the bus with me and handed over my laptop.
Four straight hours of Skyping what seemed like the entire of Eritrea followed…. Shouting their heads off in Tigrigna and laughing like lunatics, the two boys introduced me to every person they called. Despite being cramped into the front of a bus in the midst of a refugee camp in an unfamiliar country, the boys were temporarily transported into a familiar world and reunited with the people they love.
It wasn’t long before their older brother joined us and we spoke about the very difficult journey they had endured together from Eritrea. Because of the language barrier, they decided to show me instead. The boys showed me videos on Youtube of what was happening in their country, and as I sat there, the reality of their lives began to sink in. I spent the rest of my evening with these three wonderful boys, squashed into one seat watching an Eritrean film.
This experience highlights all the reasons why Internet access has now been ruled as a basic human right by the UNHRC.
Communication, both with loved ones back home, and the people you meet along the journey. Information, about asylum claims and options for the future. Opportunity, education (like learning languages) and finally escape. Sometimes you need a bit of relief from your reality. A funny film or a football match.
Internet plays such a big part in our daily lives, it is a pleasure to be able to provide it for those scattered by war and suffering trauma, and the response has been truly overwhelming and emotional.
When you have nothing left, no material possessions or stuff, all that matters in connection, the knowledge that the people you care about and love are there, and are safe.