Meet The Man Providing Free WiFi To Thousands Of Refugees In Greece
When refugees from the Middle East began piling in to the Idomeni refugee camp near his home in Thessaloniki, Greece, one man decided to put his technical knowledge to good use by installing free WiFi stations in the camp for displaced refugees to use.
Ilias Papadopoulos first visited the Idomeni camp in August 2015, when just a few thousand people were living there, Mashable reports.
When he saw how many of the refugees had smartphones, but no reliable connection with which to use them, the electrical engineer devised a plan to install free WiFi portals around the camp. By doing the residents were able to not only contact loved ones, but access invaluable information about the camp and border statuses.
Using 5,000 Euros of his own money, Papadopoulos spent nearly a month building the solar-powered WiFi hub. He installed eight access points throughout the camp, each adding more bandwidth to the network (allowing more people to use it at once).
Approximately 960 people can access the network at a time -- a sizable amount, but not nearly large enough to accommodate the some 12,000 people that have arrived at the camp since Papadopoulos' first visit, a symptom of the world's worsening refugee crisis. Often, the connection is painfully slow, especially during the day.
Still, the residents of Idomeni, who come from various countries throughout the Middle East, including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, couldn't be more grateful.
One Syrian refugee named Yazan called Papadopoulos a “life saver” and praised his “really good thinking.”
Others, like Iraqi refugee Sinan, are simply grateful for the opportunity to communicate with their loved ones, many of whom are “scattered” due to the “wars in their home countries.”
Papadopoulos, inspired by the program's success, hopes to install additional WiFi ports in other refugee camps throughout the country. He's currently seeking sponsors and donors to help raise money for the selfless project.