Dear Refugee.Info Greece community,
We want to let you know that after May 31, the Refugee.Info Greece project will start to look a little different. Our team will shrink, and our Facebook moderators will be online to answer questions just a few hours a day. We're really sorry.
This means that if you send us a message, it might take us longer to get back to you. It also means that over the summer we may not be able to post very many updates or new information. We hope it’s just temporary and that we’ll be posting more soon.
These unfortunate changes are coming because the IRC and Mercy Corps, the organizations that support Refugee.Info, need to redesign the project so it is less expensive.
As Refugee.Info Greece says goodbye to many of our founding and core team members, we are looking back on everything we’ve achieved together since 2015 ✌️❤️
Launching on social media 🤳
Our project was born in 2015 as a mobile site. The idea was to provide important information to people landing on the Greek islands.
The website was developed in 72 hours and designed in black and white to be data- and battery-light. It looked like this 👇
But after awhile, you told us this wasn't working for you anymore. You were tired of organizations asking you to use their app or website. Instead, lots of you said, you wanted us to use the apps you were already using, like Facebook.
So we started investing in our Facebook page and hired a team of moderators to respond to all your messages and comments. Our moderators came from countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. They were all in Europe, too.
Those moderators became the heart of our project, and the face, too — sometimes literally. Here's the leader of our moderation team, Moulham, in spring 2018, preparing to go live to talk about employment in Greece 👇💅🎬
Our moderators dedicated themselves to the cause, responding to all your messages (51,000 in the last year alone) and comments, in 3 languages, then 4, then 5 — every day, for 3 years and counting!
Here's a moderator a few months ago, responding to messages on her day off, from a Nowruz celebration at the beach 👇😂❤️
Starting over 🌱
After the borders closed in spring 2016, leaving so many refugees stranded in Greece and the Balkan countries, you told us that your information needs had changed. You wanted more detailed information on the ever-changing asylum process, life in Greece and beyond, jobs and education opportunities, and news in your languages.
So we asked Google to help us rethink our project, and they came to Athens to meet the users and help out. Then we started designing the program you asked us to create.
We hired a team of skilled journalists to work full-time on answering your questions. And we mapped hundreds of local services, so that when you were ill, wanted to apply for a job, learn a language, or get legal advice, our moderators could point you to the nearest people who might be able to help.
Most important: We decided to build our strategy around what our users wanted. We listened carefully to our users, trusted our users as important sources of information, and let our users tell us which topics to research. 👂🔍
In the process, our team met lots of you in person, too. Maybe you saw us after an info session...
...or at a community event.
Or maybe you even invited us over for a cup of tea.
Each person we met influenced the way we worked. Together, we built up the many resources on the Refugee.Info website and on this blog. 💁👓
Being there when it mattered 🏃♀️
Through our work, we witnessed some important moments for refugees in Greece — the highs, and the many lows — and offered information to help.
Family Reunification 👪
So many families in Greece have watched as weeks turned into months and months into years, and still they were separated from loved ones. We regularly gathered information on Family Reunification policies and flights...
...and we celebrated with families when they were reunited again 💐Our hearts are with everyone still waiting. We hope you get your happy ending soon.
Cash assistance 💳
Refugee.Info published the first guide to cash assistance, did a live chat on Facebook about cash in Athens, and made a video about how to use the cash hotline. But we didn't just cover the official information.
When refugees protested at the cash offices in Athens last year, we we there, too — both to provide information and to learn more about the protesters' concerns so we could report on them and seek answers to their questions.
We knew education was important to lots of people, so we prepared comprehensive guides to getting enrolled in school. We celebrated with families sending their children to their first day of Greek school 🎒...
...and we were there to listen and try to find solutions if they ran into problems.
We were there when so many people headed to northern Greece in hopes of crossing the border, or taking a stand, with the "Caravan of Hope" earlier this year. We went to the train station in Athens to talk to you and learn about why you wanted to join...
...and we discovered that there were as many reasons as individuals. If you were in Greece those days, we hope our information helped, even if it wasn't the good news we would have preferred to share.
Telling the most inspiring stories 📢
Our favorite moments have been sharing stories of hope, strength and humanity: refugees achieving great things, helping each other, and helping out their new communities, too.
One of our favorites: After a fire broke out in Mati last summer, lots of you messaged us asking how you could help. Abdul from Afghanistan messaged us, too, to say he had been working with refugees from Iraq, Syria, and Iran to prepare donations for people who'd lost their homes.
He said: "Greek people helped us when we first came here; now it's our turn to help the Greeks." We shared his story on our page, with information on how others could get involved 👊
In your own voice 🎤
While we loved sharing your stories, we also recognized that you deserved a place on our platform to tell your own stories, in your own words.
So the @Refugee.Info Instagram account was born 🐥
Our Instagram has featured more than 70 stories so far, and so many of your beautiful faces...
We’re proud of everything we did together, but we’re most proud of the trust we’ve earned from you.
In less than four years, our monitoring team says, more than 1 million people have used Refugee.Info. We reached this milestone without compromising our core belief: that all people deserve access to public information that affects them, delivered with respect in a language they understand.
From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank everyone who has been part of our community. We hope that, if you ever needed us, we were able to help you. We hope that you’ll keep following Refugee.Info, keep telling us what information you need, and keep being a part of our community. This project is only as good as its users think it is.
As many of us say goodbye, we want to share our favorite video, wishing everyone Eid Mubarak from the Refugee.Info family ❤️
Interested in supporting Refugee.Info? Message us on Facebook.