A morning in the life of our co-founder Dan, working on the beaches of Lesvos:
“Its 3:45am and the alarm goes. Thats my cue to get my gear ready for the nightshift on the south Lesvos shoreline.
I put on my donated wet suit and grab a few items I’ve collected along the way, like an L.E.D head torch, a pair of night vision binoculars and a leatherman multi tool.
I head downstairs and ensure our donated ambulance is stocked with emergency blankets and water.
I jump in to meet my amazing fellow team members Matthew, Constantine, Anna and Thanassis. These guys have become my family. We support each other both physically and mentally out there in the water, and have been through a serious rollercoaster of emotions together.
Sometimes we wait a few hours in anticipation, casting our eyes on the horizon for the familiar shape of the boats and those fluorescent orange jackets. In the distance we spot something…someone flashing the light from their mobile phone…a boat…10 minutes away. We zip up our wetsuits and prepare ourselves for the unknown. Who knows what state the people making this journey will be in upon arrival.
We drive parallel to the shore, as the boat approaches, we splash into the sea waving our arms…its freezing but the adrenaline gives me strength and focus.
We must quickly analyse the situation and get the people off as safely as possible. Yes they’ve made it to the shore but these minutes are still crucial, people are in shock, hypothermic, traumatised. Everyone needs warm, dry clothes, food and water, and often emergency medical attention, especially the youngest and most vulnerable.
We line up on both sides of the boat to help stabilise it, welcoming people, keeping them calm. We don’t want panic. We encourage people to disembark from the front in a controlled and collected way. Sometimes a mother will pass her child to me to get them to safety as soon as possible, as they can get caught up in the crush to get off. Some of these babies are more responsive than others.
I have become rather numb to the shock, pain and desperation that I see but also feel. At first it was easy to keep count of how many boats I’ve helped ashore. But sadly that number has grown so big that I’ve lost count. Big boats, small boats, full of children, babies some full of elderly and sick (I’ve experienced a lot of vomit,) and then some full of happy, cheering families. The start of their new lives in search of freedom.
The emotion is intense and sometimes after a day of receiving 20 plus boats and working for around 16 hours, there is no emotion left inside me. I have on numerous occasions shed a few tears, the last time was walking back along the shore to the ambulance with a tiny baby in my arms. Often I find a quiet spot to compose myself…its only natural I suppose.
Too many people have died on this crossing. Too many children. Boat after boat arrive, but many don’t make it. Please do what you can to support the fight for safe passage across all borders in Europe.”