Written by Melissa Dalton-Bradford
I hesitate to post this picture.
It is sacred.
It is terrifying.
It is true.
And it is not mine.
This is on the Aegean, crossing from Turkey to Greece. In the middle of this boat is a family, and they are my friends.
Their stories are featured in our book, Let Me Tell You My Story.
If you've ever wondered why those overloaded inflatable rafts coming to the shores of Greece seemed to be filled only with men (as I believe some US news outlets claimed), let me explain:
The men surrounded the outer rim of the vessels because they let women and children embarks first. The women and children weighted the center of the vessels, steadying them as men helped them shove off from land.
And most importantly, the men sat on the edges to protect the women and children from potential gunfire from both Turkish and Greek forces who were supposed to be curbing these smuggling routes, remember?
Finally, when smugglers, out of fear of coast guards, fled from navigating these vessels and jumped ship (we’ve heard several of those accounts), it was the men (who could drive) who took over.
To me, the label “refugee” is a badge of honor. I invite you to honor and celebrate refugees and welcomers with me this month and to meet some of these heroes at TSOS's Virtual World Refugee Day event on 17 June.
As we strengthen our relationships with resettlement agencies, friends, and community partners, we are discovering that the work doesn't have to be big to be important.