In January 2021, we distributed 300 Samsung smartphones to our core clients as part of an effort to ensure that clients have equitable access to information and can connect with RefugePoint for remote support. The smartphones will help clients communicate with RefugePoint for remote services such as training, counseling sessions, business support, and telemedicine appointments. The smartphones also give case managers a chance to follow up with clients through video calls and allow students to access online learning platforms.
As one client, Assumpta, shared with us, “Since COVID started, I haven’t been able to run my business well because I lost my phone. This phone will really help me to get in touch with my clients. It will also help us to keep in touch with my caseworker at RefugePoint.”
Often, the at-risk refugees we work with tend to rely on other community members who can afford smartphones to access data. Access to smartphones will allow our clients to have more equitable access to information, enhancing their dignity and further integrating into the communities where they live.
Distribution of the smartphones was made possible by a grant from Focusing Philanthropy. In 2020, Focusing Philanthropy supported RefugePoint’s emergency COVID response in Nairobi through a matching campaign. Seeing both RefugePoint’s success in protecting refugees and ongoing hardships, Focusing Philanthropy awarded an additional grant to address Nairobi’s specific opportunities and challenges. These included helping refugee children safely return to reopened schools, providing additional food and rent assistance, supporting businesses that could find success in the COVID-impacted market, and ensuring all RefugePoint clients could access services remotely and safely.
We are excited to see the innovative ways that clients will use the phones. We have already seen that some clients are using their phones as tools to market their businesses and improve communication with their customers. One client, Mary, is using her smartphone to market the peanut butter that she makes. Her son helped her create some ads that she posts on her WhatsApp and shares widely with potential clients from her community and her church.