This morning at 7 I made the mistake of opening my front door to say good morning to the sun. I am staying in a beautiful hotel, two minutes walk from the beach, in a small apartment (for the special volunteer price of 10 euros per night!). Obviously, boats frequently land on the beaches here. So this morning, when I opened my door, I wasn’t very surprised to see two men passing, looking for someone to help them. “Boat, please, women, children,” and they pointed in the direction of the beach.
I followed the two Syrians to the beach and they led me along the shore, across the boulders. Suddenly there was nowhere to walk but in the sea and with my phone clenched between my teeth, we waded through chest deep until we reached the wee stony beach where the rest of the group were waiting. An older women was crying uncontrollably, exhausted and scared. Others were standing round a fire, trying to keep warm. Again, my local hero Nikos, was there to organise the next step. There was no way we were getting all these people along the difficult route we had just taken. And behind the beach is a steep and difficult hill. These poor people would have to get back in a boat. I know it was the last thing they wanted to do. Nikos called a local man who soon arrived in one of those all too familiar black rubber dinghies, this time being used in an entirely different context. Thank God. He took us to the beach in front of the hotel, where landing is easy. After three trips, the whole group was finally safe on dry land. Our paramedic arrived to see the injured and reassure the worried. The children were… full of beans and charging around the hotel grounds playing, joyful! We sat in the sun, warming up and drying out, eating biscuits and drinking water until the bus arrived to take them to the next step of their journey into Greece: Oxy camp.
I don’t like asking to take people’s photos too much. But I couldn’t resist one of Radvin and his father, who were travelling alone. When I walked over to them, his father said to me “My baby love horses.” and he smiled a sad, weary smile, and my heart broke.