In the Kara Tepe refugee camp, Wi-Fi is a critical resource. Vodafone Foundation volunteers recently met one group of young men learning a new career as hairdressers, using TikTok videos and practicing on each other.

Kara Tepe is the main camp for refugees and displaced people on the island of Lesvos in Greece. The camp is built to temporarily host refugees as they process asylum applications to enter Europe. Those living in the camp include families and individuals from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

The free and reliable Wi-Fi system supplied by Vodafone Foundation is a vital resource for the individuals living in the camp.

Babet Agten, a HR manager from VodafoneZiggo in the Netherlands who volunteers for the Foundation’s Instant Network programme, said: “Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Network provides a vital link, for free, to the whole camp. Internet access helps those at Kara Tepe to connect with their families, continue their education and also unwind, relax and stay healthy.”

The award-winning Instant Network programme epitomises Vodafone Foundation’s mission of Connecting for Good. The programme deploys employee volunteers and communications technologies to restore and provide free, vital communications and technical support to aid agencies, victims and refugees in remote areas and during emergencies. Over the past decade volunteers have undertaken over 50 missions, responding to emergencies in 23 countries. The Foundation’s pioneering technology helps individuals in need to remain part of the digital society at times of need: charging phones; calling family and friends for free using Wi-Fi; processing online asylum applications; and accessing formal and informal education opportunities.

Vodafone Foundation volunteers have been supporting refugees on Lesvos since 2020, when they first installed a site-wide Wi-Fi system, with internet backhaul and bandwidth generously supplied by the Aegean University.

At the Lesvos site, Vodafone’s Instant Network has supported over 50,000 individuals over the past four years and currently delivers internet to 6,350 unique users, consuming 9 Terabytes of data a month.

Instant Network team op Lesbos

An international team of five Instant Network employees recently visited the camp to check and upgrade equipment. The team members, including Babet Agten and Jeroen Aanraad from VodafoneZiggo, work in various roles, including field engineering, cloud infrastructure, project management, and human resources (HR).

The team upgraded connectivity in the camp’s family area, including a new internet system for the non-governmental organisation Because We Carry, which helps mothers who seek refuge.

Steffi de Pous, Founder, Because We Carry said: “This new Vodafone internet network gives mothers the chance to stay connected to their families in their homeland. As we are all wired for connection.”

Vodafone Foundation also created new access points in the camp’s area designated for single men, which means that the TikTok trimmers can carry on their training towards a new career.

Instant Network team op Lesbos