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  • erinschrode

Going to Work with Refugees in Lesvos

I am heartbroken… so I’m taking action and heading to the rocky shores of Lesbos next week to work with Syrian refugees. I cannot stand by idly any longer as people wash ashore half a world away – dead and alive, old and young, sick and injured, disheartened and afraid – facing an unfathomable plight with no end in sight. Refugees are human beings who deserve dignity and attention.

Help is needed – and I can serve a purpose. After the earthquake struck Haiti, no organization would take an untrained 18-year-old volunteer (nor was my momma enthused by the idea at first, but she too fell in love with my mission and work there soon after)… so I enrolled in and completed a variety of courses, such that I could mobilize in the face of disaster or crisis within the auspices of effective, thoughtful, organizational structures on-the-ground. The time is now. And I just got myself a plane ticket, partner in crime, Jodi, and homebase…

What will I do? Drive buses, make food, watch for arriving dinghies, set up tents or medical operations, feed refugees, create shade structures, stock shelves, sort clothes, clean beaches, make kids laugh, smile, hug, cry, live, be, share, care.

For those who are interested, here is what’s occupying my mind space, how you can help me to do more good, and a brief brief outline of what is happening at the moment, as I best understand it…

What would it take for you to think that the best option available in life would be to leave everything you know, your home, possessions, friends, work, and neighborhood (if you have those, or had previously been forced to leave or lost all as a victim of terror and oppression) and pay exorbitant amounts of money to unknown smugglers to board a flimsy raft of sorts with your family of all ages and whatever you can carry – and without adequate food, water or clothing? Think about that. Really think.

The boat journey of many Syrian refugees from Turkey is harrowing, albeit short – without skilled captains to operate cheap engines and shoddy, overcrowded dinghies that are prone to fold, break, or capsize. If you successfully navigate the violent seas to the rough shorelines – scattered with deflated rubber boats, life jackets, sopping wet shoes, and abandoned possessions – the exhausted, depleted new arrivals are faced with a 40 mile trek (which can take days on foot, as adequate transportation does not exist) from the landing site to town. People die, wounds fester, illnesses worsen, and there is little food, water, toilets, medical care or technology available on the crossing or island. The Syrian encampment is far beyond capacity, while squalid conditions plague detention centers and overflow near the port with those unable to leave for days or weeks, awaiting paperwork or visa processing. 5,000 people are arriving to Greece each day and Lesbos struggles to provide, as does the mainland and other nations en route to Germany or other ideal destinations.

Many beautiful souls have asked me how they can help. From what I have learned from research and conversations, funds are needed for supplies. As I did in Haiti, I am raising funds to take with me – and then dole out for maximum impact, either through direct purchases or targeted donations to organization with veritable impact. If you feel so compelled to contribute, please send via Paypal to my email address ( or via Venmo to my cell (415 336 7242), whichever you prefer. Or reach out to me and let's talk!

My friend sent me an article today with a quote that resonated deeply: "If we’re not giving, we’re taking. We do not live in a vacuum. There is no net zero impact. There is no neutral. Take the right stance, or you’re taking the wrong one. Have a positive impact, or you’ll have a negative one."

Thank you for reading this, for giving a damn, and for supporting me in following my heart to be the change, to do something for another, to justify life in whatever way I possibly can.


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