“I will never get on a boat again in my life.”
It was night. In terms of light, you could only count on the moon. It was almost full then. You could see silhouette outlines and the hull of the boat. That was enough. When it is dark, in the middle of the sea, between the Turkish coast and the island of Lesbos, you feel like you are in limbo. The contours of the two shores are defined by the lights of the buildings. Between them is darkness. They were in the middle of it. Finally they reached the shore. They felt cold and hungry. They were losing hope that what they were running from was worse than what they were heading for.
The Day of Solidarity with Refugees is a day whose celebration should look like we are setting off into the unknown, not taking with us a passport that opens the door to all countries. Difficult? Impossible? Illegal? Yes. This is what fleeing certain death looks like.
You already know our Greek project well. You know that for three years we have been feeding the most vulnerable residents of the camp on the island of Lesbos. You know that a fire consumed Moria and that meals alone were no longer enough. You know because you have stood in solidarity with these people all these years.
We want to, need to propose something to you today! Maybe we can turn the Day of Solidarity with Refugees into a day when we finally let you stand in solidarity with us!
We still have to feed the sick and the weak, but we have started to give the strong and the powerful the tools to work! They didn’t come here looking for welfare, or trying to be spiteful. They came to start a life from scratch, when in their hometowns violence and war wanted to put an end to that life. Many people who have already made it to Europe still feel as if they are in the middle of a sea plunged into darkness. We are reaching out to meet their needs!
Introducing the Home Village! This is our pride! It’s 5 hectares of land where we already grow olives, vegetables, run a nursery, grow healthy food nurtured from seed. And it’s not us doing it. It is the people of Camp Moria who are doing it. If you help we will employ more of them. What the land yields thanks to them feeds their weaker fellow camp dwellers. Before long, it will also feed us. And not just feed us. To pamper our palates, because olive oil, herbs, preserves and cheeses will be a hit! You will see!
The aim is that our agricultural venture will not only give jobs to refugees and provide them with new skills, but to eventually make all our aid on Lesbos depend on them, and for the project to fund itself.
We still have some way to go. Every bit of your support for the Greek project is a step forward. With this project, we want to show all of Europe that it is possible. That ghettos and exclusion do not achieve as much as working and building together.