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  • Writer's pictureBeyond the Canvas

This is not about art.

Over 15,000 human beings are stranded on the Greek island of Lesbos waiting to continue their journey to a better and safer life. They come from Siria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Congo - countries we probably just associate with wars and unspeakable hardships. They are far away from home and even farther away from Bruxelles, where decisions are made (or not) and their fate is decided. They are in limbo, and have been for months, years for some of them. They live in camps with no running water or heating. They exist in a vacuum, a place where dreams are shattered and hopes are waning. I do not know what that must feel like, and chances are you don't, either.

For over five years now, the beaches of Lesbos have seen the arrival of thousands of boats coming from Turkey. The landings never stop (20,000 people in 2019 alone) and the safety jackets left behind keep piling up. There are so many now that they have created a huge, bright orange mound amidts the olive trees. I was reading about this initiative run by a French NGO called @lowtechwithrefugees, which set out to reuse the foam that's inside the jackets to produce mattresses for Moria camp, the largest in Greece. This project includes the upcycling of any waste materials that can improve the life of the refugees, as well as the organisation of carpentry, ceramics and cycle repair workshops. Not just a way to create and fix useful things, but also to give the refugees an opportunity to apply their skills, giving them back some of their dignity.

I just found out that Moria camp was destroyed by a fire only yesterday and that at least 13,000 people have been left without shelter. Germany has offered to take in up to 1,000. What about the rest? We have to do better.

#refugees #refugeeswelcome #humanrights #immigration #moriacamp #lesbos

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