One last post from our volunteer Raafia G. Thank you for sharing your experience and photos!
My last few days on Lesvos have been even more overwhelming than the firsts. I’ve learned that for most, it doesn’t get any easier any step of the way. It’s made me really think about how horrible their lives must have been in their homeland to pick up everything they ever knew, some leaving their families behind, to come start over enduring physical and emotional pain and anxiety every step of the way. There have been several children sent with their aunts and uncles or relatives in hopes of a better life. I’ve seen families both caring for relatives’ children like they are their own, but also those who have abandoned and robbed them. I’ve seen children who have witnessed their parents being taken or killed in front of their eyes. I have heard stories that boats were trying to be drowned. I have seen wounds and bruising that have made them want to escape so badly that don’t even care if they stay in Greece forever.
Every story pains my heart and I feel lucky I have had the opportunity to meet some of the refugees and hear their stories. I’ve met doctors, lawyers, teachers, regular people just like me and you. I have learned a lot from them, about how little one needs to really survive and be content and what really is important in life.
They have taught me the power of prayer. Some of them, especially the elderly come off boats soaking wet and freezing, but praying and thanking God for protecting them and their family and keeping them alive. They have taught me that faith, family, freedom, food, and shelter are basic human rights and all one really needs.
I have learned that children are very resilient. I will never forget the children I have met, the smiles on their faces, and their laughter as I’ve played with them. I will never forget the faces of the children I had to ration food with and turn away. I will never forget the feeling of hope they have as they arrive from Turkey.
The faces of helpless exhausted families who have been robbed or beaten will forever stay with me. I pray that they all will be taken care of and that they make it to their final destination easily and safely. I have seen prayers answered and the joy of families’ faces when their registration is complete and they are allowed to leave to their next destination. I hope they find peace and happiness in their new life.
Although my time here is over, I am already trying to plan my return. There is so much to be done and so much help is needed.
I’d like to thank all of the volunteers across the world that really have been working for humanity. People putting their lives on hold for weeks and months, people quitting their jobs and selling their homes to help this cause. It has truly been a beautiful experience with wonderful selfless people. I will never forget the friends I have made and the bonds that were created in the most vulnerable times. My team has been remarkable and has done great things that the most critical times. I’d like to thank my big sister Rayesa, the best travel buddy I could have asked for, and without whom my experience wouldn’t have been the same. Thanks for taking care of me, for being the mom of the team, and being my sanity through it all.
Peace out Lesvos. Until next time…