07.10.2015 - 09.10.2015 23 °C
Two nights ago, I saw a child die.
I was on a shift at the harbour in Molyvos. This involves being on standby for when the coastguard comes in with people they have had to rescue from the waters. It was the first time I had been on this shift. It was dark and cold and when people arrive they are soaked through through as they have often been submerged in the water. The first boats came in at about 7.30 pm and three of us handed out emergency blankets, took them to a small camp very close by and gave everyone food and dry clothes.
At about 9pm we were notified that the coastguard was bringing in another group of people they had rescued at sea, but that there was a child with a very low pulse and a doctor was urgently needed to meet the boat when it arrived. We ran down with the harbour with emergency blankets and there were already other volunteers/doctors there due to the seriousness of the situation. As soon as the boat came close enough the child (who cannot have been more than 1 years old) was passed to a doctor, who immediately began CPR with two other Doctors. We tried to keep everyone calm, move spectators away and get emergency blankets to the other people who didn't have them. There was another family on the boat who needed a doctor and a family approached me saying that their child urgently needed an injection from a doctor. Thankfully another doctor became free and was able to help this other family. The other volunteers took the rest of the group away to the camp, as usual. The doctors continued to try to save the child on the ground, in the middle of all of this happening around them.
There was one boy left who was very distressed, who had not gone with everyone else. I then realised that he was the older brother of the little boy having CPR. His mother was being looked after by a volunteer who spoke Arabic. I stayed with him whilst the doctors tried everything they could do. They couldn't have done anymore and unfortunately the boy died.
I don't think it's fair on the family or right to talk about all the details of everything that happened, so I won't. I do feel that it's important to write this blog though because this is the reality for a lot of families. They are so desperate to flee war that they put themselves in danger, because they have no other choice. A mother with three children left her country to try to keep them safe, and now only has two children. Heart breaking doesn't even cover how I feel about what happened and what I saw this family go through.
I haven't used the word 'refugee' in this post deliberately. Being a refugee is a status. The definition of a refugee is 'a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster'. This group of people are human beings and sometimes the portrayal in the media and the fact that there are so many people seeking refugee, means it's easy to forget these people are individuals, each with their own story. I saw a mother lose her son and two brothers lose their sibling. No family should ever have to go through that.
As I type this I'm sat on a balcony, that overlooks exactly where this all happened. If you walked by there now, you'd have no idea anything had happened. It's a beautiful sunny day, the sea is calm, there are locals and tourists alike going about there day. Of course, life continues for the rest of us, but it's important that we don't forget. This isn't an isolated incident and we all have to do everything we can to try to stop unnecessary deaths. The UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency) website stated in August, an estimated 2,500 have died in the Mediterranean Sea this year alone. This is of an estimated 300,000 people making this journey. This little boy will now join that statistic.
When meeting these people, either on your travels, where you live or anywhere else, please remember they each have a story and we should show kindness to them and welcome them. This family will be placed in Europe somewhere safe and, just like everyone else, deserve that as a minimum.