By Charlene Lake, Sr. Vice President Public Affairs, and Chief Sustainability Officer
Most of us take telecommunications for granted. It’s there when we want it.
But around the world, the sudden loss of communications in areas struck by natural or manmade disasters can be just as challenging as the lack of food and medicine.
The founders of Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) came to understand how important communications are in crisis situations during missions in the Balkans and in Kurdistan during the first Gulf War.
Conflicts and emergencies often lead to massive civilian displacement, and separated families or affected populations are often left with no communications infrastructure in place to find assistance and loved ones.
To address that need for communications services in times of crisis, TSF bought its first satellite phone, and the organisation was born. Today it is the world’s leading emergency telecommunications non-governmental organisation (NGO).
Since 1998, TSF has intervened in more than 60 countries on five continents and has offered telephone calls to any affected family. TSF experts also establish telecom centers for emergency responders. With Internet access, NGOs, United Nations agencies and local authorities can communicate right at the height of a crisis and work more efficiently to help victims. In the longer term, the organisation works with local governments to rebuild ICT support infrastructure and re-establish commercial networks ― a crucial step in getting communities on the road to recovery.
This year, AT&T has been celebrating 10 years of proud support for TSF.
The celebration started in January when we participated in a photo exhibition at the European Parliament showcasing the organisation’s work. Entitled ‘Communications for Life,’ the exhibition captured the crucial work TSF has done on the ground in Italy, Chile, Libya, Thailand, Haiti, Pakistan, El Salvador and Turkey. It showcased both the help the teams offer people affected by adversity and their collaboration with other humanitarian organisations.
And this week, I was pleased to join TSF members, friends and supporters at a ceremony at the residence of the French ambassador in London. His Excellency Bernard Emié recognised TSF’s many years of service to the people of the world.
During the evening, guests were able to see more pictures of TSF at work around the world – striking testimony of the work TSF does in the most difficult circumstances. At the event, I was delighted to be able to announce that AT&T has furthered its commitment to TSF with a donation of $150,000, bringing the total level of support AT&T and the AT&T Foundation have given to the charity over the last decade to $800,000.
As a member of local and global communities, a company’s resources can play an important role in disaster relief efforts. When disaster strikes, AT&T and our employees assist victims and affected communities through corporate giving, employee volunteerism, and network preparedness and response.
TSF couldn’t undertake its work without the support of individual donors and many companies and corporations from the technology eco-system. Without cash donations and contributions in-kind via services and equipment, TSF teams wouldn’t have the resources to do this fantastic humanitarian work. If you too would like to find out more about TSF, visit the organisation’s website or make a direct donation here.
The work TSF does worldwide is truly impressive and we count ourselves privileged to support its efforts to make our communities stronger.