K&B volunteer in Lesvos: The first boat

Karian and Box volunteer in Lesvos: Part 1 — Alice’s story

Our first night we volunteered to help people off the boats. I say boats — but in essence they are inflatable dinghies that are filled to the brim with 35-40 children, women and men who have to navigate 40 km of treacherous sea.

One of the biggest dangers is the dinghy hitting the rocks and collapsing, with everyone in it falling into the sea. This happened only a few days ago, with one of the babies (a 4 month old) drowning.

Volunteers on the ground communicate by flash light in the vast darkness to help the people in the dingy find a safe spot to land.

Our team could see the dinghy floating just offshore but it had stalled. As we drew closer we realised the dinghy had run out of fuel a few metres offshore.

There was much panic and confusion as we tried to keep the people on the dinghy calm. But a three hour journey across the sea in the pitch black is nothing to keep calm about.

I and other volunteers waded into the sea and pulled the dingy ashore.

The relief and gratitude of people was overwhelming as we helped them onto the sand and started to distribute warm Red Cross aid kits. We distributed water and cereal bars and were met with grateful smiles as people were helped onto a coach.

One 70 year old lady kissed me on both cheeks, in tears as she realized she had made it across without drowning. As she hugged her grandson close, one wondered whether the tears were tinged with sadness that she would likely never see her war-torn homeland again.

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Posted on 11th January 2016 in Community
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