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Escalating Humanitarian Crisis On The Aegean Sea: A Yogi’s View

In my goals I am strolling again,” the twenty-four-year-outdated Syrian tells me from his wheelchair that his mates have lifted him into after their overcrowded raft arrived on the shores of Lesvos, Greece yesterday.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 every of 11 million Syrians who have been displaced from their houses since 2011 (BBC World News).

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Now, in Greece, he and the a hundred and twenty others who arrived yesterday will proceed on their arduous journey, first to Molyvos, a coastal city that is about an hour’s uphill stroll from the shore, then on a bus to a locked detention facility mens stone island gloves in Mytilini, then to Athens the place they’ll obtain authorization for a short lived keep in Greece.

I arrived in mid-April to work on a mission with Angela Farmer, probably the most revered elder yogini in the world, solely to be met by refugees largely from Afghanistan and Syria, but in addition from Pakistan and Yemen, who’ve paid a minimum of 1000 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 prolonged household showed me their badly torn up knees, accidents brought on by crawling for seven hours in the dead of night to cross the border into Turkey to then find their way to smugglers to get to Greece.

Standing on the shore in the early mornings, I have discovered to wave my hands up in the air as I watch rafts zig-zagging in the water. Usually, the smuggler jumps off the raft near the Turkish shore, leaving an engine rudder in somebody’s fingers who may have by no means operated a ship and or have any thought where, on Lesvos, to point.

When the rafts attain shore, there are cheers and, at the very least for a few minutes, elation. Despite the fact that they are soaking wet and chilly and most having left cherished ones behind, they are alive. However then they have questions: What island are we on Will the police come to arrest us Or no questions in any respect: just staring, as shock settles in.

Yesterday, the second raft of individuals watched because the third raft virtually capsized. A father on the second raft, who had 4 kids on the third, watched for forty five minutes till the Greek Coast Guard had been in a position to rescue them.

The individuals coming–attorneys, pc specialists, artists, dairy exporters, university college students, middle faculty children, stone masons, and engineers. Yesterday a young 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-outdated tried to lap up milk from a cup, her lovely eyes as huge as saucers.

Last week, a distinguished household from Damascus included two grandmothers of their eighties, each dressed from head to toe in traditional elegant black silk. Both sat in the beating sun in wheelchairs in Molyvos for hours until being loaded, with out their wheelchairs, into the again of a choose up truck to be taken to a bus to Mytilini. The eighty-one yr outdated’s palms have been shaking uncontrollably. This Syrian household bought their business, homes, and vehicles to come back. To depart Damascus is to go away probably the most refined and culturally rich cities on the earth. As one Syrian instructed me not too long ago, “Till this warfare, no Syrians thought of leaving their nation. Now, each Syrian must consider this. “

Yesterday, I walked with two unaccompanied Syrian teenagers who’re trying to find their technique to Germany. They have been the two in the gang that ran with me seeking a rescue boat when the third raft had capsized in the course of the sea. By the time these two younger males in designer tee-shirts had been registered in Molyvos, one assured me he was allowed to smoke since he was already 18. They both need to go to a university, “no matter what.” One speaks 4 languages, the opposite three.

The resounding message from the mens stone island gloves folks who have so kindly shared with me right here–we should stop the senseless war in Syria. The people from Afghanistan walk for weeks across what some call “skeleton desert” to flee violence of their nation. The countries which can be selling weapons in Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen have to be stopped. The most important message–every youngster deserves respect, every household deserves to lift 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 hassle although the officials are exhausted and dealing with really meager resources. In April we heard that the UN had authorized money for rescue operations. The island of Lesvos has yet to obtain any extra sources. In line with International Group for Migration worker Zoi Liveditov, a mean of 200 migrants are arriving to Lesvos each day (totaling more than 27,000 thus far this year), which is nearly triple the quantity that arrived by this time final 12 months.

In the meantime, the folks of Lesvos proceed to prepare clothing drives and provide ad-hoc meals every day for the refugees ready to go to Athens. Becoming a member of the Greek locals is the international contingent of yogis right here for a two-week workshop (with Angela Farmer and Victor Van Kooten) who’ve wholeheartedly introduced financial and emotional help to this crisis.

Many individuals from Lesvos come from households that have been refugees themselves. Lesvos offers a hopeful instance of how one can welcome folks without guns. The folks of Greece have welcomed refugees for hundreds of years. This ethic reigns even as brutality perpetuated by the Golden Dawn, (a Greek proper wing organization) included carving swastikas into the backs of immigrants in 2012 (CBN Information World, July 31, 2012).

These weeks right here, I’ve been awed by the dignity and resilience I’ve witnessed among the many refugees. The younger mothers carrying babies, the fathers giving their portion of juice to their kids, and the youth taking “selfies” when they get out of the rafts. In yoga, “ahimsa” (a Sanskrit phrase for nonviolence) is the very first precept. In my weeks here, I have 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 including, 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