“The same oceans crossed. For some it’s pleasure, for some it’s pain”.
4 years ago this week, we were on the beautiful Greek Island of Lesvos, not for vacation. Lesvos is one of the closest European lands to the Middle East and Asia, where thousands of refugees from those locations and North Africa were trying and dying to get to.
We tried our best to help the many from Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran…to land safely on this tiny island and assist with shelter and medical care the best we could. We saw the worst of humanity, and the best.
If these refugees were lucky to land at the sea shore, and later in the crowded and dangerous Moria “camp”, it was a hectic, unorganised, but heartfelt assistance led by rag tag humanitarians from all around the world, like us. With very little help from Greece and official refugee organisations, this motley crew barely kept this island from exploding. Finding food, tents and sleeping bags, giving out shoes, medical care, money, rides, and love, it was beautiful to see that some people in this world do care, by welcoming our sisters and brothers. After touching safe soil, some refugees would cry, some would faint, many thanked God, others would kiss the ground, or us.
That was 4 years ago today, and we still keep in contact with some who we assisted and are now safe, working, and contributing in Europe. Unfortunately, on this Greek Island, not much has changed and today, it might even be worse. So far this month, Lesvos has “welcomed” over 2,500 refugees, and over 20,000 this year!! For the 5th year in a row, the death toll in the Mediterranean Sea has reached over 1,000.
As some of us privileged Westerners take a break from the cold and book a cruise around the Mediterranean or Caribbean seas, please remember, “the same oceans crossed, for some it’s pleasure, for some it’s pain”.