Maybe you have once seen the attractive clear blue waters of Lesbos on a holiday website or, even better, maybe you’ve once been swimming in the pleasantly refreshing sea yourself on a hot summer day. To take you from that peaceful picture to the cruel image of 10.000 refugees arriving in 48 hours is simply impossible. But it has been our reality. Overloaded insecure boats full of scared women, men and children, of which most could not swim, wearing fake life vests, were hitting the north coast of the island for months. Day and night.
The Lifeguard Hellas Rescue team has been working tirelessly to save lives from the sea. At a certain point they didn’t have enough boats to rescue all the people arriving. This is when Movement on the Ground invested in a rescue boat and since then our yellow boat is roaming the coastline of Lesvos.
- We have saved 500 lives from drowning with our lifeboat.
- Helping 35 boats land safely in the first month of operating
SEA TO SAFETY
When Johnny and Adil, two of the founders of Movement on the Ground, spontaneously started helping refugees on the north coast of Lesvos they immediately realized the impossibility of the logistic challenge growing upon the island. Making sure thousands and thousands of refugees safely made it out of their unsafe boats on to the land was only the beginning. How to warm them up? How to feed them? How to comfort them? How to make sure they have a place to sleep? How to organize transportation? How to communicate?
The two friends from Amsterdam made an unexpected but very clever and interesting move: in their network they contacted people organizing big festivals. Even though festivals have quite a different feel, they also need to temporarily host thousands of people. Not much later four trucks full of festival materials drove from Holland to Lesvos. It turned out to be the key that lead to a successful Sea to Safety program making sure refugees did not just make it out of their boats but also into an organized and safe camp providing a warm and dry place to sleep, daily meals and medical assistance.
- Reception of thousands of refugee’s on Lesvos; providing water, food, emergency blankets and dry clothing, rescue equipment.
- Restructuring and winterization of transit camp Oxy on Lesvos; installing large industrial tent heaters, independent sustainable high voltage generators, lighting facilities, signage, blankets, queuing- audio announcement systems and safety barriers to help direct people towards various areas of the camp.
- 10,000 people made use of the heated shelters provided by Movement on the Ground
Now let’s talk about real heroes: our volunteers! Movement on the Ground would not be moving anything if it wasn’t for the big help of our volunteers. From all corners of the world we receive an ever-increasing amount of emails from people who want to help us help. Lawyers, students, mothers, yoga teachers and actors, you name it. Some take a sabbatical to join our team for a couple of months and some barely manage to escape their busy jobs for 2 weeks. They all have one thing in common: they invest their own time and money in making the world a better place. We applaud to that. Big time!
- Our team on Lesvos consists of approximately 8-12 volunteers. Some come for 2 weeks, some for several months. They help us run our current projects.
- These volunteers not only help us physically but also financially, they are the corner stone of our work.
- Having people coming from various nationalities, backgrounds and having varying skills enriches our presence in the camp and often brings new creative and innovative ideas.