Every day on the island of Lesbos, Greece, rafts and boats carrying Middle Eastern refugees land on the rocky shore. And every day, Greek citizens welcome and care for the weary migrants that stream into their front yards.
In this past October alone, 200,000 refugees came to the island to be directed to the Moria Refugee Camp in Lesbos. The incredible kindness that the native islanders and volunteers from all over the world have shown the migrants has been showcased in the past few months. If one were to step onto the island, they might see a Dutch volunteer carrying a water tank or a representative from the Swiss-based Médecins Sans Frontières organization. CNN has captured multiple voices of compassionate Greek islanders who believe that helping the refugees in small ways, like providing them with something to eat, or big ways, like rescuing their ship at sea, is basic humanity. In fact, for their uncommon show of care and welcome to refugees, a petition to nominate the islanders for the Noble Peace Prize has garnered thousands of signatures.
Though foreign efforts to help refugees have been extremely generous, the constant influx of volunteers and aid organizations has been, perhaps inevitably, overall disruptive to Greece. Spyros Galinos, the mayor of Lesbos, commented to the Guardian newspaper on the lack of cooperation of some volunteers with the methods of the Greek island and its people. Often, volunteers might frighten incoming refugees with noisy and unneeded disturbance or provide refugees with misinformation. Lesbos resident Aphroditi Vati told the Guardian newspaper that foreign volunteers are not asking the islanders how they can help or considering how much of an ordeal the crisis has been for the island’s residents.
Though Lesbos residents have experienced chaos, and struggled with a humanitarian dilemma to welcome or not welcome the thousands of refugees needing immediate attention upon arrival, their generous hospitality has been stalwart. Hopefully, their respect and brotherly compassion for newcomers will serve as an example to foreign volunteers looking to help and to the rest of the world while Middle Eastern refugees flee to escape violence and persecution at home.