I am pacing around the front gate of our camp. The movement helps me stop shivering in the cold.
Lights from Turkish villages twinkle in the darkness on the other side of the sea.
This is where the boats pass through.
But tonight, the water is quiet.
The EU recently gave Turkey three billion Euros to help stop the flow of refugees. We’re thinking this means that our little piece of the Aegean is now more heavily patrolled, so smugglers are choosing other routes. Many refugees are still coming to the island, just in other places.
Sometimes ministry looks like simply being available.
The Greek people were available this summer, when up to 5,000 refugees arrived on the island each day and there was no system of camps to help them. Instead, Lesvos residents handed out food and water on their own, even though many Greeks are suffering because of economic problems.
Now there are camps and volunteers from many places. Our site enables refugees to take a bus to other camps, and eventually to the city where they will take a ferry or plane to Athens. Otherwise it’s a two day walk. Our camp means that refugees will not be sleeping in ditches, or living in wet clothes.
But before any of this, there were people who were available to help when their island was flooded with need, even when they had little themselves.
I talked to one Greek woman who’s here helping with Samaritan’s Purse. She’s not a Lesvos resident, but like many Greeks she’s suffered because of the country’s economic troubles. When I asked her why she chose to volunteer she said, “I have had many good Samaritans in my life,” and then added that she has no home either. In that way, she sees herself in the refugees.
I think we all can, in some way or another.
So we shiver in the cold and stare at the horizon, knowing that on the other side thousands of refugees are doing the same.
I wish I could send a message across the water to the human beings waiting there.
When you’re able to come over, we’ll be ready to care for you. We are available.