Next week is spring break, and this year I will be spending it on the Greek island of Lesvos. I will be there for eight days helping refugees who have just made the six mile water crossing from Turkey to Greece.
I don’t remember exactly when I got it in my head to do this. A news article came to me on Facebook, I think, about the hundreds of people arriving every day on Greek beaches, and the volunteers showing up from around the world to help islanders trying to cope with the influx. Mystifyingly, there had been little official response to the growing crisis on Lesvos, Kos, Samos, Kalymnos, and Leros; while politicians debated policy, children drowned in the sea and refugee families spent nights and days shivering in soggy tent cities. Local people were generous but overwhelmed by the need.
This was back in November, and I was looking to go in the spring. I didn’t buy my plane tickets until quite late. Every day the news was changing, and it was hard to tell facts from rumors: the military were going to take over all running of the camps; volunteers would be arrested for aiding illegal immigrants; Greece would be kicked out of the EU if they didn’t stop boats from crossing; the EU’s forces were deliberately sinking refugee rafts. A couple of weeks ago, the flow of immigrants slowed to almost nothing; was it the NATO warships keeping them away from Greece’s shores, or the weather? I’m OK with getting arrested, but I didn’t want to go if there was no work for me. As it turned out, it was the weather, and the new arrivals are landing on Lesvos again at 1,000-2,000 per day. Over 100,000 have arrived since the first of the year.
I expect this trip will be the main subject of my blog posts for the next couple of weeks. If you want to check out my fundraiser on YouCaring, follow this link.
So here I go. It’s kind of a leap of faith, but over the past few years I’ve become a lot better at trusting my heart to lead me in the right direction.