#OurSharedFuture: The Basic Human Needs of Connection and Information

“The Basic Human Needs of Connection and Information”

Written by Nusrat Latif

Basic Human Needs

According to Abraham Maslow people across the world have more in common than we might think.  We all have basic needs such as Food, Water, Warmth & Rest. Then Security and Safety. Afterwards – Belongingness and Love. Then Esteem  – our need to feel accomplished. The final ones are Self-Fulfilment and Actualisation – realising our full potential as a human being.

However recently two additional needs have been identified – to Connect and to have Access to Information.

The Refugee Crisis

‘UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report says an unprecedented 65.6 million people were uprooted from their homes by conflict and persecution at the end of 2016.’

The growth in the number of refugees and displaced people over the past few decades is staggering. We have millions of people who are in an unsafe vulnerable position. They are lonely, they have mental health complications because of the trauma of the situation they fled, the journey they traveled and the ongoing uncertainty around the destination they are yet to reach.

(Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

(Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Refugees Depend on Connectivity and Access to Information

Refugees have dreams and aspirations to turn their lives around. But they have more imminent pressing needs – to connect with loved ones; to let them know where they are and that they are safe; to simply hear their voice and reduce just for a moment the fear and loneliness they feel daily.

Displaced people and asylum seekers also need access to information – be that GPS coordinates to ensure they are on the right routes and avoid exposure to human traffickers and organised crime gangs; accessing information to apply for asylum; understanding the local rules of the country they are in, or simply finding food, shelter and security.

The tool of choice to Connect and have Access to Information is the smart phone. According to Cisco, by 2021 more people will have a smartphone (5.5 billion), than running water (5.4 billion) or bank accounts (5.3 billion).

Every day at Phone Credit for Refugees this need to Connect is something we know all too well.

Adil’s Story

In February 2016 a volunteer by the name of James Pearce, while visiting the notorious Calais Jungle refugee camp in France, met a young man called Adil. Barefoot – as a result of having his shoes removed by the police to prevent him from boarding a truck as was common practice at the time -Adil was understandably despondent. He was reluctant to engage with Jape who was there to provide support for refugees ahead of the looming demolition of the camp. Jape found Adil some shoes, a rare commodity, and subsequently provided phone credit to Adil by reaching out to potential donors on his personal Facebook.

From there the idea to set up a Facebook Group to provide Connectivity and hope to refugees and displaced people was born. To date, the charity Phone Credit For Refugees and Displaced People has provided mobile phone top-ups over 26,000 times. The Facebook group now has an astonishing 54,000 members. Funds have been raised by the sheer generosity of strangers donating almost over half a million pounds, with all proceeds going directly to the most vulnerable and needy refugees first.

The Evolution of Phone Credit for Refugees

Today we have the genius of social media giving refugees access to social platforms such as Facebook. Facebook has helped millions of people connect and reconnect with family and friends. Through Phone Credit For Refugees, and the kind donations made by compassionate supporters, the charity is able to top-up refugees phones making it possible for them to Connect.

If knowledge is power, lack of it makes humans vulnerable and at risk. We need to enable access to knowledge and giving phone credit is one way to do this.

Help Refugees Stay Safe and Connected

If you would like to help refugees stay safe and connected, please follow Phone Credit for Refugees and Displaced People on social media and get involved, either through volunteering or a direct donation to the cause. In honor of World Refugee Day, we will be sharing posts and media related to refugees around the world.

#OurSharedFuture is what we can give to refugees, no matter where we reside on the planet.