Heal the World — A Few Heroes of Lesvos


Sappho on a Lesvos hotel wall

Imagine a place where every need created by a continuing, relentless disaster seems to be organically filled by people who are committed to One Important Thing.  And when needs change, people change. With hardly any money or rules. The work on Lesvos is not perfect and the task is impossibly difficult but Lesvos provides plenty of evidence of what people can do.  It is a place where you meet many heroes.

Here are a few of the heroes I met in just 8 days:

The People of Lesvos


Yani, a very popular restaurant owner, donated her family’s hotel for a refugee transit center. Here, she is crying after Cookie gave her a lost bottle of champagne discovered during the hotel’s restoration. The bottle was given to her by her now-deceased father to celebrate her college graduation.


Members of the community who were already suffering from the troubled Greek  economy quietly supporting the island’s humanitarian efforts.

The Hellenic Lifeguards


The lifeguards of Greece have volunteered countless hours away from their families and jobs to save lives on Lesvos


During the quiet times, lifeguard training included power surfing, soccer and even swimming.

The Dirty Girls


Alison Terry-Evans, an Australian, created a nonprofit to clean refugee clothing so that it can be re-used by other refugees rather than being sent to landfill. Imagine being responsible for 1,000 pounds of laundry every day. Better not to google their name without including the search terms “Lesvos” and “laundry.”

The So Many Volunteers, Especially Scandinavians


Two new friends, Anne-Lene from Norway and Marijke from Holland, both in Lesvos to volunteer for the second time in a year. I was often the only non-Scandinavian in any volunteer group but they all speak perfect English.

The Journalists and Film Makers


Photographer making sure the Hellenic Lifeguards get the credit they deserve.


Atlas the Drone,  fearless photographer and least flirtatious member of the film crew.

The Solidarity Underground


Activists who advocate for the refugees and fight against nationalism and bureaucracy.  Not everyone appreciates their methods, but they move the center.

The Canine and Feline Volunteers


Beach Cat would follow me up the hill at Lighthouse, although actually he was in front of me.  He would then join me in surveying the expanse below. Or maybe I joined him.


I think Anee came back as a Greek waiter. Mostly waiting for scrambled eggs.












And the people who are risking everything to find peace and safety….


Lesvos — with half a million refugees who have shown up on its doorstep —  is just a small corner of a growing and far-reaching crisis.  Our global response to this mass migration of people escaping war and destitution will mean the difference between more war and more peace. Rather than politicizing suffering and religion, we should be standing up for our American values.  Like Lesvos.


That’s all we got, one world….

—  Black Eyed Peas

You probably haven’t seen this since 1993 — watching it again will change your day:


  1. Kim – You are an outstanding person, head and shoulders above the rest of America. That clip reminded me that we used to be a compassionate and generous people. It makes me so sad that suffering people around the world can’t count on us anymore. What happened? Thank you for planting the seed that we can be better than we are, care more than we do, and do more than we do. You should organize brigades of Americans to do what you have done.
    Humbly yours,

    1. Thank you April but I am nothing more than a witness. On Lesvos, I had coffee with an older woman from Albania who said “The US broke apart the Middle East and ISIS is taking the opportunity to put it back together.” The US is taking no responsibility for this crisis and the whole world sees that. Why don’t we?

  2. Kim – I wrote a comment but I think I mistyped my emails address, so the cyber-gods may not publish it. I hope it comes through. Your posts have been fabulous. I can’t wait to see you after your return. Hugs, April

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Fabulous, Kim! You are a gift to the world and Lesvos looks like a perfect place for your energy, your great heart, your passion for justice and your lifelong striving to make the world a better place..,.,not to mention your gift for finding other people like those on Lesvos who share your ideals and willingness to work to do the right thing even if it’s hard.

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