Saturday, June 24, 2017

Brothers and Sisters

My Dutch sisters, have a flat tire, and while they are waiting for help, two Spanish firefighters come to the rescue. We learn from their gratitude and animated re-telling, that the Spanish firefighters came to help at the height of the refugee crisis in Lesvos.

Two come at a time. The other firefighters cover their shifts and they come and live in Lesvos for two weeks.

We all gather for dinner at Nikolys, a crossroads for boat refugee volunteers. One of the Spanish firemen comes to our table when he recognizes the women with the flat tire.

He explains the routine. How they sacrifice, leave their families, how they work longer hours to help. How they pretend to train at night, in case there are refugees, how they have been forbidden to train since it was a ruse to get out and save and bring to a new shore in hopes of a new life.

Since March, when a deal was finally struck between the president of Turkey and the EU, the sea between Turkey and Lesvos, is patrolled. If the refugees make it past the half way mark, they are free to board a Greek rescue ship; if they are stopped before, they are taken back to Turkey.

It reminds me of our own wet foot-dry foot policy that allowed Cuban refugees to either be an American with the advantages of political asylum or a returned-to-Cuba, Cuban. If the refugee made it to shore, he was free. If he was 20 feet away still in the water, he was forced to return. The policy ended with the changes implemented by the Obama administration.

I want to ask a Florida Coast Guard member who worked during the wet or dry foot policy: Did you really take someone back who was 20 feet from shore? If they were swimming fast? Did it break your heart? Sometimes?

My Spanish brother makes it clear. It breaks his heart when refugees don't make it within inches of a line that divides the sea.

My Dutch, Italian, and one American sister=Team #86 BWC. Tony is the sole male in our BWC team. He is well trained to work with women--I would consider him an expert.




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