The lifejacket graveyard, an active landfill that collects all of the lifejackets that people drop or wash up on the shore of the island upon refugee’s arrival from Turkey.
One of our UNESCO Aotearoa Youth Leaders, Shaymaa Arif, has been working as an Arabic/English interpreter at Moria Refugee Camp in Greece. She reports on her experience. Note: The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the National Commission’s work.
Perhaps prior to taking on the journey to Lesvos, my perspective and views and assumptions on how I would answer questions regarding it would have been completely different.
But being on Lesvos and working in Moria Refugee Camp, it changes you. Whether you are there for a week or a month.
I left to go to Greece to actually see what was happening in the real world. The entire reason I studied law and pursued a law career was because of the refugee crisis. Being originally Iraqi and Syrian, it always played a major role in my identity and my life. I wanted to do something but after five years of learning everything by book through the news, I was done. How can I help if I didn’t really experience what was happening first-hand?
So within a week, I contacted a Greek NGO in Lesvos that I had been following for over a year, Emergency Response Center International, rushed my paperwork, and booked my tickets for 14th of April 2018. After a week, I got my final confirmation to work with ERCI as an Arabic/ English interpreter at their medical clinic at the Camp.
ERCI is a shoreline emergency response NGO. This means, if the boats making their way from Izmir to Lesvos don’t get intercepted by the Turkish Coast Guards or are not picked up by the Hellenic Coast guards, ERCI immediately responds to assist refugees arriving on the shoreline.