Google Donating 25,000 Chromebook Laptops to Syrian Refugees in Germany
Google has announced it will spend $5.3 million to donate some 25,000 new Chromebook laptop computers to Syrian and other refugees in Germany.
“As they make it through a dangerous journey, the first thing refugees need is to find shelter, food and access to care,” explained Google.org director Jacquelline Fuller on the company’s British blog. “But soon enough, they have to learn the local language, acquire skills to work in a new country, and figure out a way to continue their studies—all in an effort to reclaim and reconnect with the lives they had before.”
“Last fall, we shared how we’re supporting organizations on the frontline of providing essential humanitarian relief support,” Fuller continued, referring to a 2015 donation-matching initiative that raised over $11 million for refugees. “But we also wanted to do something to help with refugees’ long-term challenges, such as the need for access to information and education. So today, we’re making a $5.3 million Google.org grant to support the launch of Project Reconnect, a program by NetHope to equip nonprofits working with refugees in Germany with Chromebooks, in order to facilitate easier access to education for refugees.”
Fuller added that “Chromebooks have proven to be a good fit for education purposes.”
“They can be easily set up to run education or language learning apps,” she wrote. “They’re automatically kept up to date with the latest features, apps and virus protection. And they can be configured and managed by a central administrator (in this case the nonprofits) to offer relevant programs, content and materials depending on the situation. For example, they can run an educational game for children, a language course for younger adults or even feature information about the asylum application process on a pre-installed homepage.”
Brian Reich, director of The Hive, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ innovation lab, lauded Google for its generosity but questioned whether the donations will have a multiplying effect—will they benefit people other than those who receive the laptops?
“A lot of Chromebooks will get into the hands of people who will benefit greatly from them,” Reich told Wired. “The question is: does that also benefit other people who are not those who receive the Chromebooks?”
Last year, Germany admitted more than 1 million asylum-seeking refugees, most of whom were fleeing civil war, economic hardship, religious persecution and even genocide in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.
In addition to raising over $11 million and donating 25,000 new laptops, Google has also created Crisis Info Hub, an open-source platform where migrants can get practical information about lodging, transportation and other important matters.