Connecting unconnected refugees with the German Red Cross

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Clare Ward
T. +44 118 905 3501

What brings Verizon, the German Red Cross, and the American Consul General in Germany together on a cold Thursday in February? An initiative to help refugees in Germany use technology to access education and make friends across the barriers of geography and language, that’s what.

The Verizon team in Germany is supporting a Red Cross project to give refugees in Hesse Wi-Fi Internet access, and 30 Microsoft Surface tablets to enable them to access online educational and communication resources. The refugees will use the tablets to learn German and also continue their general education. More importantly, the devices will also enable the refugees to learn more about their new home and German society, as well as connecting them to both the bigger world and their friends and families far away.

As well as providing the tablets, Verizon employees have also installed secure Wi-Fi access and Internet connectivity at the Red Cross facility in Hesse. And it’s not only the refugees who benefit - the upgraded service also supports the Red Cross‘ administration systems.

Nils Möller, national managing director of German Red Cross in Hesse says: "Today, access to technology increasingly equates to access to education. These modern devices and Wi-Fi access will support us in the active practice sessions that occur during German language courses. These are invaluable in integrating the refugees into German society. We are pleased to have received this generous donation, which greatly supports the positive outcomes of our individual learning programs." Sharing our success with the community to make the world in which we work better than it was yesterday, is at the core of Verizon’s culture around the globe.

“Verizon’s role in this project is not just about donating money, or technology,” Rich Montgomery, vice president for International Sales at Verizon commented. “Our people are also donating time and expertise to ensure that the refugees in Hessen will be able to quickly use our tablets to learn, to communicate, to settle into their new world. Most importantly, our employees are engaged in this project not because they have been told to, but because they saw an opportunity to do something simple that would make a big difference to this community.”

“It is important to remember that we are all citizens of the world, and it’s our duty to play our role in our local communities, wherever they may be,” remarked Tom Dailey, vice president of legal operations and international General Counsel at Verizon. “This project is a good example of how a small team can make a big difference to some of our fellow global citizens. Wi-Fi connectivity and the means to access the Internet are things that most of us take for granted these days. But when you’ve lost almost everything, the simple gift of tablets and routers, like we’re providing here, gives a route to re-engaging with the world, restoring self-esteem, and re-connecting with the globe.”

Speaking on the Red Cross project James Herman, the U.S. Consul General in Germany, comments, "The refugee issue is one of the great challenges of our time. When people leave their homes because of war, persecution or natural disasters, they lose access to educational opportunities. The U.S. State Department launched a program with Coursera for refugees, which makes massive open online courses from American universities accessible to non-profit organizations. We want to help refugees find work and increase their prospects for the future. Refugees arriving in Germany can also benefit from courses in entrepreneurship, social media marketing, or the programming of computers."

The tablet devices and supporting Internet access was formally handed over to the Red Cross at an event held on February 9, in Hesse. This was attended by Nils Möller and Dr. Armin Eckert from the German Red Cross; Rich Montgomery – Group Vice President for Verizon’s international markets and Tom Dailey, Verizon’s Vice President and General Counsel for the International Markets; and James Herman, the U.S. Consul General in Germany.