It all started when...
In early 2016, the borders between Greece and its neighbours closed, blocking the Balkan Route and causing makeshift camps to spring up near the border with FYROM. Thousands of people were stuck, and thousands more came from all over the world to help them. MIT’s founders arrived, like many others, to help provide food and other basic needs.
With time, they started noticing a huge information deficit: people had tremendous problems, but absolutely no knowledge on how to address them. The lack of advice and support on the ground was startling: the official authorities and large NGO’s just did not have enough capacity to respond. There was hardly any reception in the area, making it impossible to get information from the Internet. European legislation, regulations and agreements were changing by the week. The closing of the borders left people in limbo, not sure about what their next move should be, not knowing who to turn to, extremely vulnerable to all sorts of rumours and exploitation. Many clung to the hope that the borders would simply reopen.
Clear and reliable information about the situation, options and procedures had become, in many ways, what people needed the most. And so the founders of MIT started to collect, verify and deliver the information asylum seekers were looking for, one question at a time. First they helped set up an Info Tent in Idomeni, then an Info Point at Eko Station, then an Info Team in Hotel Hara. Every day, they sat with refugees, heard their stories and took note of their questions; reached out to lawyers, social workers, and asylum authorities to verify information; and fulfilled their commitment to coming back with the answers – independently of how bad they were. When the makeshift camps were evicted and most people were moved to government run camps around Thessaloniki, the team became mobile and followed them.
Mobile Info Team was born from the camps - its first translators were asylum seekers and camp residents. It was the natural response to the needs on the ground, and it grew with the challenges it encountered along the way. It gained an invaluable connection to the people it sought to serve,, and it evolved with their input and perspective.
MIT has provided support to over 500 asylum cases, which represents more than 1,100 individuals. It has more than 22,000 followers on social media. It has gained the trust and respect of both asylum seeking communities and other actors on the ground. But most importantly, it has supported refugees in their struggle for rights and lives lived in dignity.