As a Canadian, I feel very fortunate that every day I am able to experience life in a safe environment, free from war, from poverty, and from disaster. However, I have also felt very helpless knowing that millions of people around the world do not have the means to this kind of life. Helpless knowing that millions of Syrians have been displaced from their homes, fleeing all that they have known, in search of safety and a real chance at life – a basic human right.
When the opportunity arose to volunteer on the ground in Lesvos, Greece, along with a small group of eleven other remarkably compassionate and generous people, I knew I had to be a part of it. From my own personal gratitude came my palpable urge to volunteer my efforts to serve and aid others.
And so, this week I will be heading to Lesvos, the geographical point where the majority of refugees have been arriving, both from Syria and the other countries in the region who have been impacted by ISIS and the ongoing civil war with the Assad regime. Every day, hundreds of refugees land on the shores of the island of Lesvos after making the often treacherous and dangerous voyage across the Aegean Sea by boat. The refugees then remain in camps for days at a time – many often without shelter, sleeping in the open air – while they await registration to be admitted into Europe; their second chance at a better life.
The purpose of our volunteer trip is to support the emergency response efforts and aid refugees in the most effective and needed ways. This means that we may be spending our time there on the shores helping the arriving refugees and providing them with dry clothes and foil/heat blankets before they head up to the camps; OR sorting and distributing donated shoes, clothing, and sleeping bags; OR distributing food and clean drinking water; OR ensuring those in need of medical care receive the appropriate help necessary; OR directing and assisting refugees to the camps where they register to enter into Europe. The assistance needed is endless. We intend to contribute in any means necessary – whatever we need to do to be useful to those who are fleeing from violent and horrific conditions.
I will be taking with me a large bag of a dozen (very generously donated!) brand new shoes, socks, and underwear to be able to provide to those in need.
In the end, there is one thing to keep in mind: we are all human and we all deserve a chance at a safe, healthy, and happy life. Only together can we rebuild this world into a better place.
Photo by Massimo Sestini