A Greek Odyssey — If the shoe fits
After the storm, came the calm. After the hailstones came the boats.
The 7am shift brought lighter winds and calmer seas. That could only mean boats…lots of them. They had been waiting in Turkish forests, waiting for the weather to clear and their chance for Europe. The crossing is just 7km.
We didn’t wait for long..the Australian volunteer lifeguard raised the call and immediately the rescue boat was dispatched to escort the boat to shore.
The small dinghy boat had 7 children, 2 pregnant women and the rest mostly young men. We learned that they had paid extra for a “safe” boat of only 32 people with an experienced boat operator — they got neither — and 56 people were crammed aboard. Even worse, the smuggler jumped out 10metres off the Turkish coast and it was left to a young man, with a pregnant wife, to navigate to Europe….he was from Tehran and had not even seen the ocean before!!!!
He was white in the face and wept uncontrollably when they reached dry land. It was a pleasure to offer any comfort we could, to the declared “ hero of the hour”.
I met Amir and his wife and gorgeous 3 boys. Amir is an award winning chef in Syria and has cooked for heads of state and the rich and famous. In the past 2 years, Amir has paid approx $150,000 as bribes and protection money to Daesh (IS) to keep his family alive. There was no more to give.
So they’ve started on the journey (hopefully to join his brother in the UK). We had a long discussion on the conditions in the camps in Calais and how the journey through Europe was going to be long and cold. He was fully informed but thankful to his God that his kids were alive (I have also had so many blessings bestowed on me by him that I am set for life).
He needed shoes for the family. Their only shoes were ruined on the crossing and Amir knew that long walks were ahead of them. Dry feet are the least we can help with, as we hear tales of trench foot (!) further north in the crossings through the Balkans.
Approx 1,200 people arrived on Lesvos today. Those boats are full of stories like Amir’s.
I am writing this at 11pm….just got the call..more boats.
P.s. many of you have asked me how you can help. Your interest and messages of support are very welcome. I have started a crowd funding page to gather some funds together to purchase some badly needed, practical items for the overall relief effort. More details here. https://chuffed.org/project/a-greek-odyssey-help-where-its-most-needed