Escalating Humanitarian Crisis On The Aegean Sea: A Yogi’s View
In my dreams I’m walking stone island jumper blue once more,” the twenty-four-yr-previous Syrian tells me from his wheelchair that his buddies 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 one in all 11 million Syrians who have been displaced from their homes since 2011 (BBC World Information).
Now, in Greece, he and the 120 others who arrived yesterday will continue on their arduous journey, first to Molyvos, a coastal city that’s about an hour’s uphill walk from the shore, then on a bus to a locked detention facility in Mytilini, then to Athens the place they may receive authorization for a brief keep in Greece.
I arrived in mid-April to work on a mission with Angela Farmer, essentially the most revered elder yogini on this planet, solely to be met by refugees mostly from Afghanistan and Syria, but in addition from Pakistan and Yemen, who have paid at the very least a thousand euros every to smugglers on the coast of Turkey for a 10 kilometer crossing of the Aegean Sea to Lesvos. Final week an Afghan grandmother and grandfather with their extended household confirmed me their badly torn up knees, injuries brought on by crawling for seven hours in the dark to cross the border into Turkey to then discover their method to smugglers to get to Greece.
Standing on the shore in the early mornings, I’ve realized to wave my arms up within the air as I watch rafts zig-zagging in the water. Usually, the smuggler jumps off the raft close to the Turkish shore, leaving an engine rudder in somebody’s hands who could have by no means operated a ship and or have any concept where, on Lesvos, to level.
When the rafts reach shore, there are cheers and, not less than for a few minutes, elation. Although they are soaking wet and chilly and most having left liked ones behind, they’re alive. But then they’ve 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 people watched because the third raft virtually capsized. A father on the second raft, who had four kids on the third, watched for 45 minutes till the Greek Coast Guard had been capable of rescue them.
The folks coming–legal professionals, laptop specialists, artists, dairy exporters, college students, center faculty 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 in the harbor in Molyvos. No baby bottle was available. The six-month-previous tried to lap up milk from a cup, her lovely eyes as large as saucers.
Final week, a prominent household from Damascus included two grandmothers of their eighties, both dressed from head to toe in traditional elegant black silk. Each sat within the beating solar in wheelchairs in Molyvos for hours till being loaded, without their wheelchairs, into the again of a decide up truck to be taken to a bus to Mytilini. The eighty-one 12 months outdated’s fingers have been shaking uncontrollably. This Syrian family bought their business, homes, and vehicles to return. To go away Damascus is to go away some of the refined and culturally rich cities on the planet. As one Syrian informed me lately, “Until this struggle, no Syrians considered leaving their country. Now, each Syrian should consider this. “
Yesterday, I walked with two unaccompanied Syrian teenagers who’re trying to find their way to Germany. They were the 2 in the crowd that ran with me in search of a rescue boat when the third raft had capsized in the middle of the sea. By the point these two young men in designer tee-shirts had been registered in Molyvos, one assured me he was allowed to smoke since he was already Island 18. They each need to go to a college, “no matter what.” One speaks 4 languages, the opposite three.
The resounding message from the people who’ve so kindly shared with me here–we must stop the senseless struggle in Syria. The people from Afghanistan walk for weeks across what some call “skeleton desert” to escape violence of their nation. The nations which might be selling weapons in Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen have to be stopped. The largest message–each child deserves respect, every household deserves to boost kids in security.
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 hassle though the officials are exhausted and dealing 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 accordance with Worldwide Group for Migration worker Zoi Liveditov, a mean of 200 migrants are arriving to Lesvos each day (totaling greater than 27,000 to this point this year), which is almost triple the number that arrived by this time last yr.
In the meantime, the folks of Lesvos proceed to arrange clothing drives and provide advert-hoc meals every day for the refugees ready to go to Athens. Joining the Greek locals is the worldwide contingent of yogis right here for a two-week workshop (with Angela Farmer and Victor Van Kooten) who have wholeheartedly introduced financial and emotional help to this disaster.
Many individuals from Lesvos come from families that have been refugees themselves. Lesvos gives a hopeful example of find out how to welcome people with out guns. The folks of Greece have welcomed refugees for 1000’s of years. This ethic reigns at the same time as brutality perpetuated by the Golden Daybreak, (a Greek proper wing group) included carving swastikas into the backs of immigrants in 2012 (CBN News World, July 31, 2012).
These weeks right here, I have been awed by the dignity and resilience I have witnessed among the refugees. The younger mothers carrying babies, 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 here, I have gained a more profound understanding of what ahimsa requires of all of us.
Becky Thompson Ph.D. poet, professor, yoga trainer and activist, is the writer of several scholarly books on social justice including, Survivors on the Yoga Mat: Stories for Those Healing from Trauma. She is professor of Sociology at Simmons College in Boston. Her web site is beckythompsonyoga.com.