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Sun-Powered Phone Charger Gives Migrants in Greece Free Electricity | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Children stand around a solar powered charging station for mobile devices designed by a group of university students, at the municipality-run camp of Kara Tepe on the island of Lesbos, Greece, June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Refugees and migrants stuck in Greece find it hard to access electricity to charge their phones, especially that it’s not always free in cafes or even available in overcrowded camps. In hope to change that, a team of students from Edinburgh University have designed a mobile phone charging station powered only by sun.

The students have installed two units in camps, each constructed to generate electricity for 12 plugs an hour relying on solar energy, thus providing free power to as many as 240 people per unit on daily basis.

The idea came out during Alexandros Angelopoulos’s visit last summer to Samos Island, one of the entry points into Europe for nearly a million people fleeing wars and poverty in Middle East and beyond. 20-years old Alexandros is one of the station founders.

“People started asking for my phone to call family and to use the internet,” Angelopoulos said. Often, they were stranded at the port sharing one plug.

“We just wanted to make a positive contribution to local communities through renewable energy,” said co-founder Samuel Kellerhals, 21.

With the help of Greek solar technology company Entec, the 1st two units of Projects Elpis were designed and built, noting that Elpis means “hope” in Greek.

“Initially it was quite difficult. Everything in Greece is quite bureaucratic,” Angelopoulos said.

Now, with money raised through crowdfunding another three units are on track of being constructed. Crowdfunding is considered as an efficient way to make funds from a great number of people through internet.

At Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos where the first unit was installed, authorities and residents are thrilled.

“I told them — you should’ve brought it yesterday and not one, but four,” said Stavros Miroyannis, who manages the camp for families which is run by the local municipality.

“They’ve promised me three more and I’m expecting them with great pleasure.”

Miroyannis hopes to one day power the entire site using solar energy. Solar panels have already replaced street lamps.

“This is a gift from God,” he said, pointing to the blazing sun.