Today, I took the long and winding road to Mantamados, a hill town on the northeast part of Lesvos. I found out about it the Greek way — from locals — because everything and everyone on Lesvos is somehow connected.
It is very hard to comprehend what has happened on the Island of Lesvos in a very short time. For more than a year, Lesvos was a place of kindness and generosity to half a million refugees. Local residents and international volunteers scrounged up resources with almost no help from government or large NGOs. Food, sanitation and shelter were inadequate but compassion and mutual understanding were in abundant supply.
I returned to Lesvos today after a week at the Port of Piraeus in Athens. Lesvos has changed. Continue reading
Martin Luther King said “The Arc of the Moral Universe is long but moves toward justice,” expressing the kind of hope that keeps us fighting for our children and something bigger than ourselves. The international agreement between Europe and Turkey that treats more than 3 million lives as a commodity is not moral, as the unfolding events here in Greece have already made clear.
I am heartbroken, like so many others, that Europe today adopted an illegal and inhumane agreement to deport refugees from Greece to Turkey.
Hope is a word you hear a lot on Lesvos. Many here talk about how lucky they have been to have met so many people who have lost everything but still have hope. This week I was inspired again to have welcomed a boat to shore. After hearing that a lot of boats would be landing south of Mytilene, Jo from England and I drove over the mountain to Mytilene. We arrived at about 6:30am at “Campfire,” where the NGOs stand watch all night, and met Cedric, a photojournalist from Paris. Several boats had arrived before dawn, escorted in by Frontex or the Coast Guard.
Yesterday, I traveled with Oakland friend Nanci to Moria refugee camp, 35 miles south of where I am staying in Molyvos. Moria is designed to be a way station, a place where refugees can stay for a day or two while they are going through registration with the Greek government before they board ferries to Athens. It is likely to become something longer term as the Greek government tries to manage the back up from here to the closed Macedonian border.
As I settle in here and talk to locals and volunteers, I hear so many amazing stories. The community of Lesvos has made a difference in the lives of so many and has itself been profoundly transformed by the refugee crisis.