It has been more than two years since I first arrived on the Greek island of Lesvos where overloaded boats brought refugees to the island’s windy beaches. The people in the boats were mostly young and many were children — wet, cold and hungry, escaping war and persecution in their home countries. Continue reading
My hero, Pope Francis, came to Lesvos on my birthday. He was not visiting me personally, as you might guess, but his visit felt personal. He came because so many victims of war, oppression and persecution are not getting the benefit of global leadership that treats them according to Christian values. Or Jewish values. Or Muslim values. Or Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, Shinto, B’hai, Crips and Bloods values.
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
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.
During my first few days back in Molyvos, I have been settling in and trying to find my Greek center. I am staying in a small traditional cottage just outside of Molyvos next to a grove of olive trees with sheep — the two staples of the Lesvos landscape. It is quiet and comfortable and adorable.
On New Year’s Day, Greenpeace and a lot of volunteers were up at the life jacket graveyard to make a giant peace sign while we wait for peace. Continue reading
I arrived in Lesvos on the day the number of refugees arriving in Greece from Turkey reached 1 million. Almost half of them came to this island of 90,000 residents on the way to Germany, Scandinavia, any place that will take them. Continue reading