(Greece) – Across Greece, thousands of migrants and refugees are living in makeshift and state run camps as they wait for word about their asylum applications. Many of these migrants are separated from their families and loved ones, but thanks to their smartphones, they’re able to stay in touch – as long their phone is charged. For many, keeping their phones charged has been a challenge. Not only is it fairly expensive to offer enough power stations, but not everyone has easy access to these charging stations. Option s have been to find access to electricity in their already overcrowded camps, or use the electricity available in cafes and other places, which isn’t always free.
Students from Edinburgh University have potentially found a solution to this problem. They have designed mobile charging stations that are powered by the sun. These solar unites are configured to create enough electricity for a total of 12 plugs each hour, which essentially allows 240 people per day to charge their phones. Many camps now has two of these units installed, which means that a total of 480 people per day are potentially able to charge their phones.
Many of the people at these camps use these phones to call their families at home and to use the internet. When Alexadros Angelopoulos, one of the founders of the units, visited the island of Samos, he was moved by how many people asked to borrow his phone to call their families. Many of the migrants and refugees escaped their war ravaged countries for better lives, but many also left family members and loved ones behind. Samuel Kellerhals, another founder, said that their goal was, “to make a positive contribution to local communities through renewable energy.”
Seeing a need, the two founders created, with the help of a solar company called Entec, “Project Elpis” from the Greek word for “hope”. Their goal has been to build enough units to allow for as many migrants and refugees the chance to charge their phones. Morale in camps has been especially low in recent weeks because of the long wait times imposed on people who have applied for asylum and efforts such as “Project Elpis” are designed to fulfill a need that will lead to better conditions in the camps.