Escalating Humanitarian Disaster On The Aegean Sea: A Yogi’s View
In my dreams I’m strolling once more,” the twenty-4-year-outdated Syrian tells me from his wheelchair that his friends have lifted him into after their overcrowded raft arrived on the shores of Lesvos, Greece yesterday. He was paralyzed by a sniper in Syria, now considered one of eleven million Syrians who have been displaced from their homes since 2011 (BBC World Information).
Now, in Greece, he and the one hundred twenty others who arrived yesterday will proceed on their arduous journey, first to Molyvos, a coastal city that’s about an hour’s uphill stroll from the shore, then on a bus to a locked detention facility in Mytilini, then to Athens where they are going to obtain authorization for a short lived stay in Greece.
I arrived in mid-April to work on a undertaking with Angela Farmer, essentially the most revered elder yogini on this planet, only to be met by refugees mostly from Afghanistan and Syria, but in addition from Pakistan and Yemen, who have paid not less than one thousand euros every to smugglers on the coast of Turkey for a ten kilometer crossing of the Aegean Sea to Lesvos. Last week an Afghan grandmother and grandfather with their prolonged family confirmed me their badly torn up knees, accidents caused by crawling for seven hours in the dead of night to cross the border into Turkey to then discover their solution to smugglers to get to Greece.
Standing on the shore within the early mornings, I have realized to wave my arms up in the air as I watch rafts zig-zagging within the water. Typically, the smuggler jumps off the raft near the Turkish shore, leaving an engine rudder in someone’s fingers who may have by no means operated a ship and or have any concept the place, on Lesvos, to level.
When the rafts reach shore, there are cheers and, a minimum of for a few minutes, elation. Despite the fact that they are soaking wet and cold and most having left cherished ones behind, they’re alive. But then they have questions: What island are we on Will the police come to arrest us Or no questions at all: just staring, as shock settles in.
Yesterday, the second raft of individuals watched as the third raft almost capsized. A father on the second raft, who had 4 children on the third, watched for 45 minutes till the Greek Coast Guard have been able to rescue them.
The individuals coming–legal professionals, pc specialists, artists, dairy exporters, college college students, center school children, stone masons, and engineers. Yesterday a younger household from Syria laid their infant daughter and toddler son on concrete, below the shade of a docked fishing boat within the harbor in Molyvos. No child bottle was accessible. The six-month-previous tried to lap up milk from a cup, her beautiful eyes as massive as saucers.
Final week, a distinguished family from Damascus included two grandmothers of their eighties, both dressed from head to toe in traditional elegant black silk. Both sat within the beating sun in wheelchairs in Molyvos for hours till being loaded, with out their wheelchairs, into the back of polo stone island prezzi a decide up truck to be taken to a bus to Mytilini. The eighty-one year old’s fingers have been shaking uncontrollably. This Syrian family bought their enterprise, homes, and cars to come back. To depart Damascus is to go away one of the refined and culturally rich cities in the world. As one Syrian told me lately, “Till this warfare, no Syrians thought of leaving their nation. Now, every Syrian must consider this. “
Yesterday, I walked with two unaccompanied Syrian teenagers who’re looking for their way to Germany. They were the two in the crowd that ran with me looking for a rescue boat when the third raft had capsized in the course of the sea. By the time these two younger men in designer tee-shirts had been registered in Molyvos, one assured me he was allowed to smoke since he was already 18. They each wish to go to a university, “no matter what.” One speaks 4 languages, the opposite three.
The resounding message from the folks who have so kindly shared with me here–we should stop the senseless conflict in Syria. The folks from Afghanistan stroll for weeks across what some call “skeleton desert” to flee violence of their country. The international locations which can be promoting weapons in Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen need to be stopped. The most important message–each child deserves respect, each household deserves to raise kids in safety.
As a yogi and professor about to return to the US, I am moved by the tenacity of the Greek coast guards who, day after day, are making helicopter and boat sweeps when rafts are in trouble even though the officials are exhausted and working with truly meager assets. In April we heard that the UN had authorized money for rescue operations. The island of Lesvos has but to receive any further resources. In keeping with Worldwide Organization for Migration worker Zoi Liveditov, a median of 200 migrants are arriving to Lesvos each day (totaling more than 27,000 to this point this yr), which is nearly triple the quantity that arrived by this time last year.
In the meantime, the folks of Lesvos proceed to prepare clothing drives and provide advert-hoc meals each day for the refugees waiting to go to Athens. Joining the Greek locals is the worldwide contingent of yogis here for a two-week workshop (with Angela Farmer and Victor Van Kooten) who have wholeheartedly brought monetary and emotional assist to this disaster.
Many individuals from Lesvos come from families that had been refugees themselves. Lesvos presents a hopeful example of learn how to welcome people with out guns. The people of Greece have welcomed refugees for 1000’s of years. This ethic reigns even as brutality perpetuated by the Golden Daybreak, (a Greek proper wing organization) included carving swastikas into the backs of immigrants in 2012 (CBN Information World, July 31, 2012).
These weeks here, I have been awed by the dignity and resilience I have witnessed among the many refugees. The younger mothers carrying infants, the fathers giving their portion of juice to their youngsters, and the youth taking “selfies” after they get out of the rafts. In yoga, “ahimsa” (a Sanskrit word for nonviolence) is the very first precept. In my weeks right here, I’ve gained a extra profound understanding of what ahimsa requires of all of us.
Becky Thompson Ph.D. poet, professor, yoga teacher and activist, is the author of a number of scholarly books on social justice together with, Survivors on the Yoga Mat: Stories for These Healing from Trauma. She is professor of Sociology at Simmons Faculty in Stone Island News Boston. Her website is beckythompsonyoga.com.