Third Wave Volunteers -3 Years helping Syrian refugees in Lesvos-Greece/ Turkey and around the Syrian borders.
SOLAR LIGHTS PHOTOS taken BY DOUG KUNTZ and CHRIS MORROW.
ONE LIGHT: Emergency Solar light donation to Syrian, Iraq and Afghanistan refugees in Greece, Macedonia, Turkey and other borders.
The Syrian refugee crisis is dire- how bad is it back in their own countries that these families (with many small children and babies) are forced to walk 1000’s of miles with only what they can carry on their backs. Then pay $2000 per person to pile into overcrowded unsafe small rubber smuggler boats to reach the Greek isle of Lesvos – which is the first entry point to Europe.
Once on board and approaching the Greek coastline the skipper ( a crook slashes the rubber boat or only gives enough gas to get half way )making it sink so the Greek Coastguard are forced to rescue everyone- but each night many people drown. The refugees arrive cold, wet and hungry and many are in shock- one lady gave birth on the beach a few days ago while 3 others drowned. On arrival volunteers give the refugees dry clothes, food and medical attention and then refugees walk 28 miles up a steep dark mountain to the refugee camps.
We have had emergency calls over the weekend pleading for solar lights as the large tents and camps in so many areas are pitch black. The lights are 11$ each and we are accepting donations.
From Alison’s blog- Lesvos Greece.
My scary Halloween under a full moon- by Alison Thompson SOS- CALLING ALL ANGELS!!!!
The last time i asked for all the angels in the world to come to help in a SOS call it was after the 2004 tsunami with 300,000 dead. I’m tired and I don’t have time to write on social media but know its importance to get the message out to the world and to get more aid and volunteers here.
I have had exactly 3 hours sleep in the past 72 hours. No words can describe this exodus of Syrian, Iraq and afghan refugees- 1000’s land 24 hours a day -wet- cold -hungry and traumatized with a lot of babies and children.
The refugees are kind, humble, good people–many of the women lost their babies on the long walk to freedom. Today one man washed ashore who had left Iraq a year ago after his mother and sister were repeatedly raped by Isis. He had made it to Turkey with them but didn’t have enough money for the smugglers boats (as the Turkish mafia charged 1000’s of $ for refugees to cross a 6 mile stretch to Greece) so he had to work to get the money in turkey where he was beaten daily and his pay later stolen. When he finally reached the boats he said they were beating people and holding guns to their heads and they broke his legs and threw him in the boat- when he was out to sea the smugglers then threw him overboard and laughed when the boat full of children capsized as they jumped onto their get away boat.
I found him washed up on the beach close to hypothermia- I blew on his face and warmed him with my close breath- he had made it and he survived. I had to convince him he was finally safe now but his eyes told me he didn’t believe me.
Tonight it is frigid cold and the winds are playing havoc with the refugee boats tipping them over all day.
So many children died and the ones that made it were blue and wet – we worked hard with CPR to save their lives some survived – others not.
After we arrived back to base we saw 3 refugee boats who had just capsized so we scrambled over the rocks and water to get to them before the sea swallowed them up and scrapped them across the rocks.
The solar lanterns were a magic box of hope which lit up the makeshift hospital bus along the shore and were given to refugees as they set off on the next part of their journey. (which included a 28 mile walk up a steep mountain carrying babies and children to refugee camps).
These are just 2 of 1000’s of stories we hear daily and the solutions to this crisis are large but one thing we can do is help these people in front of us – I blow bubbles at the kids and dab perfume on women who haven’t washed in months – tears leak out of my face and we shiver in the cold hugging each other.
I tell them I love them in broken Arabic or Farsi- then later back at the local restaurant at 1 am volunteers meet cry and laugh and try to cope with the past 24 hours of trauma-
—ready for the next day full of the same–
Latest post Friday from syrian refugee crisis in Greece NOV 22nd–
LOVE IS LOVE- where has all the love gone in the world?
Standing on the rocky shores of Lesbos Greece my eyes lock onto two specks of black on the horizon and my heart swells. The refugees are upon us now- terrified wet and hungry- our whistles blow- they are 50 feet from shore and panic and screams begin.
children and babies are quickly passed volunteer via volunteer to the safety of shore and we smile and hug families who were almost swallowed by the sea— some never made it.
Where is all the love in the world?
on landing they kiss the ground and praise God for their lives while others sit in quiet shock- its the quiet ones we worry about.
We can’t solve the larger problems of the world but we can help these people right in front of us.
We rush another hypothermic pregnant woman along the darkened shoreline now lit with magic bright solar puff lights and my care is focused on the heartbeat of two.
Inside the Adventist makeshift bus hospital Dr Michael works alongside muslims, Israelis and christians to save lives. There are no skin colors or religions here- we are frontline soldiers fighting for humanity before we exterminate each other. In front of me stand an educated afghan family whose father has been shot by the Talliban. They paid 26,000$ to cross from turkey to Greece and wait patiently for Maeve to finish cleaning his infected wounds as his young son smiles through his eyes due to his jaw being wired shut from being shot through his jaw.
I reach for a bottle of bubbles to help calm another restless baby and eye two young women in the corner who have been raped by ISIS- they are silent but their eyes trace my every move.
In new eyes I see their journey before and after- heading for the promised land but only finding paper towns. Many of the refugees will be forced to return home and now if the whole world turns against them then iSIS and the rest of the brutal regimes win and will wait for them to return to kill them.
Where is the love in the world?
The turkish mafia charge 1- 2000$ per head for them to cross the deadly sea to freedom- how bad is it back home that the sea is safer than the land? It brings to my mind the jumpers on Sept 11th, 2001.
A flashback to ten days ago with half drowned children dying in our arms and so many more bodies never found.- 2 nights ago a boat of refugees spent 10 hours sinking in their boat and an obese man jumped overboard so that they could live. He was found at 3am alone out in the black sea by James a volunteer from England.
In each new story my brain and emotions shut down to protect the innocent and I snap back into flight as the rescue whistles start again. Ten boat loads later another woman collapses into my love and I stroke her hair and repeat the few Arabic words I know ” Hamdila” Praise God”
The grassroots teams get help straight to the people and the volunteers on the ground help till they drop. From the amazing Rayyan the cook (who feeds 1000’s of refugees daily ), Lesvos Lighthouse Relief volunteers, Dr Michael and his gang of Adventists, the Third Wave Volunteers and to all the other volunteer groups from all over the world.
Aslam Obaid is a Syrian volunteer who stayed to help and he works endless shifts to tie it all together. We are all family now.
Volunteering is a gift from the heart and it beats strong and never gives up.
Here is the LOVE from all nations and our hearts won’t stop until they do.
love is love and the world doesn’t work without it!
My OPED in Miami Herald
SKALA SIKAMINEAS, GREECE — Standing in the harbor of this Greek village on the island of Lesbos, I am holding yet another soaking wet little girl with blue lips. Minutes before she had been sinking in the deadly Aegean sea crossing from Turkey to Greece. Her parents had fled Syria with only a cellphone and cash after their house had been bombed and ISIS had shot three generations of their relatives in cold blood.
My heart swells as I spot tiny specks of orange lifejackets bobbing like oranges in a low-riding boat. The rescue whistles blow, and volunteers from all nations jump into action. The refugees are closer now, and 50 feet from shore the screams of terror begin as two panicked refugees jump out, setting off a crushing stampede as children and babies are catapulted from the boat into the dark sea.
Most Syrians don’t swim. I catch sight of a small body in a puffy pink jacket floating away and I plunge into the water to reach her in borrowed time. I struggle to plant my feet on the slippery rocks below as the weight of her lifejacket and wet clothes strain my lazy muscles to work even harder.
By the shore, volunteers call for stretchers in five different languages, but I am focused on one child’s heartbeat. Finding no pulse, I fumble at her clothes, free the airway and pump her tiny chest looking for life. After two cycles of CPR, water sputters from her mouth and I turn her over to allow the sea to escape. She is not in good condition, but she is alive. Children and babies are quickly being passed, volunteer to volunteer, to the safety of shore, and we smile and hug the families who were almost swallowed by the sea.
Back on the shore, I reach for a bottle of bubbles to help calm another restless baby and eye the two teenage girls who have been raped by ISIS. They remain silent, and their dark lashes spy my every move. With new eyes, I scope the refugee journey of heading toward the “promised land,” but finding only paper towns. In Lesbos, I have seen the face of all our gods, where humans embrace and pain is absorbed into a love without borders.
Volunteers work day and night in rain and snow, huddled together around fires and in rental cars, tracking the boats and sending rescue teams out into the angry sea. We rush another hypothermic pregnant woman along the darkened shoreline now lit with magic bright solar lights and wait and pray, always ready with emergency blankets and food and dry clothes.
The volunteers share jubilation in the safe rescues — and bottomless despair when we learn they have capsized and everyone has drowned.
After five months of volunteering in Lesbos, my brain can’t solve the larger problems of a world where leaders are also struggling to find answers. I do know that I can help these suffering humans, but I am not naïve enough to think that a terrorist couldn’t get through any border or inspire people across many nations.
Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Half the country’s pre-war population — more than 11 million people — have been killed or forced to flee their homes. Last year, more than 800,000 Syrians arrived by sea and in them I have met beautiful, educated families who are just like us.
When did we become so fearful? The Sept. 11 attacks taught me not to live in fear or give in to terrorism. If the world turns its back on the refugees, they will be forced to return to Syria and then ISIS wins.
Where has all the love gone in the world? We are not being asked to go shave our heads and become monks, but to imagine a world where everyone does their part, so that the karma banks will overflow with blue-chip stocks of compassion and we all become “billionaires on the inside.”
Imagine a world where souls are more valuable than money. Isn’t that the way it was meant to be?
It’s easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but now humanity asks us to transform fear into love. To be in the wrong place at the right time.
Dr. Alison Thompson is the founder of Third Wave Volunteers working with Syrian refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos.