Witness to only one part of a long and harrowing journey

by Mary Margaret Ryan

What we often noticed most was the sense of relief on the faces of the people who had just managed to make the short but dangerous journey across the bay from Turkey and onto Lesbos. It was a terrifying experience they immediately wanted to put behind them.


Often using borrowed phones their first task was to call their loved ones back home in Turkey and Syria to say that they had made land safely: but nobody wanted to describe to their loved ones what they had just been through.


Many were soaking wet and had almost nothing with them: their belongings often tossed away by the people smugglers as they stepped onto the tiny boats. They could salvage almost nothing as they had often had to pay over €1,500 per person for the passage and had to do as they were told or be left behind. If they arrived during daylight, they sought out dry clothing. Those unlucky to arrive at night had to wait things out in their wet clothes.


We helped by distributing food and emergency supplies, medical care if it’s needed. We had to explain that this is assistance provided free by our donors. They thought they would have to pay even for the water we gave them.


The new arrivals make their way almost immediately. To continue across the island to where they will have to pay for another ferry journey, albeit a safer one, to Piraeus.

 We were witness to only one part of a long and harrowing journey away from their homes and loved ones left behind