Chronicle of a boat landing

This is a translation of the post from February 11th, 2016

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It is so surreal…

The coast of Turkey seems to be really near from Skala Skamineas, perhaps due to the effect of the mountains by the sea on the other side. One would say you could cross swimming. But then you see a tiny orange point in the middle of the sea. So small, so far, but still so close, since they seem to be already past half of the way. You take the zoom of the camera and confirm it: It’s a rubber boat, crowded with people on orange “life-vests” (you know, these vests that in contact with water get heavier and heavier…).

Everyone kicks in. In the island, the volunteers are now more than prepared. Multiple life guards are coordinated to go find them and accompany them in the last bit of the crossing. People in the camps load their cars with dry clothes, socks and shoes, but also blankets. The doctors grab their cases. The crossing over the sea is long, cold and wet, and many arrive shivering. Those who stopped shivering are the worse. Removing their wet clothes and wrapping them with dry blankets is crucial.

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They are fortunate now, within the disfortune. At the beach there’s many of us waiting for them, as this is what we came to do. The boat reaches the beach and they jump down. We try to keep them calm but it’s not easy. We lift the children and carry them away from the water to avoid their feet from getting wet, though often in vain, as the boat comes already full of water. Still keep an eye not to split families! If they get lost now, it will be difficult to meet again. Translators do the easiest but most vital work.

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And they are here. They walk on the beach. One or two bags contain absolutely everything they possess in life now. They have no ceiling, no home, no country, as they left their behind pushed by the fire. Doctors take care of some people in shock, mainly due to the cold. The feeling in my body is very weird. Despite the thoughts about the terror these very same people just fled, I keep smiling at them and ask them how are they doing. Vans and cars of volunteers bring them to the nearest camps (this time to the IRC camp at the coast towards Molyvos).

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Many are happy. They smile. Said comes from Damascus. He thanks us many times and wishes that God bless us. Hardly we have asked, he already explains. He paid 650€ for the crossing. The smuggler stayed in Turkey and a refugee himself drove the boat. The driver crosses for free. They waited a whole day in the coast of Turkey for the right moment to leave avoiding the Turkish coast guard. They knew they would cross because their smuggler bribed the turkish military (this is for me difficult to believe, as if the turkish coast guard intercepts them and brings them back, as it happened to two boats today, they will never see their money again anyway). Said also indicates that another boat should be coming, from the same smuggler.

And indeed, we sight the orange spot in the horizon.

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