A Canadian woman went to Greece to help rescue refugees. Here's what she saw.

The video begins with a man in a blue and orange coat surrounded by strangers breaking down on a Greek beach.

For a moment, he sobs, clutching his daughter — no more than six years old — tightly to his chest. A person from the crowd drapes a thin, grey blanket around him. Then, suddenly, he begins to panic. He holds up a few fingers — first four, then two.
He is a refugee, and his first moments on European soil were captured on tape by Rory Aurora Richards, a Canadian volunteer working to aid the thousands of men, women, and children landing in Greece after fleeing persecution in their home countries.
"He was from one of about 13 boats we brought in that night. Scenes like this are not uncommon," Richards told Upworthy.
"People come off the boats very traumatized. The relief of being on safe land triggers a deep release of emotion and trauma."

Richards is one of dozens of volunteers from around the world who have traveled to Lesbos Island in Greece to aid refugees fleeing war in Syria and around the Middle East.

Though neighboring Turkey is often the first stop for many refugees from Syria and the Middle East, many ultimately decide to attempt to continue on to Europe. When refugees successfully complete the dangerous, over-water crossing, Lesbos is often where they land.
Roughly 6,000 refugees arrive on the island per day, according to some estimates.

Lifeguards rescue refugees from a boat off a Lesbos beach. Photo by Rory Aurora Richards/Facebook, used with permission.

According to Richards, who is raising money for the relief efforts on Lesbos, the volunteers operate individually or in separate groups organized by country of origin.

While the volunteer teams only occasionally coordinate, they share a common goal: giving aid and comfort to people in great danger.

"The only thing that binds us together is compassion and the concern for human lives," Richards says of her fellow volunteers.
It was this compassion, as well as a sense of duty drawn from own religious and cultural background, that led Richards to offer her services at her own expense.
"I'm Jewish, so the reality of genocide and being a refugee resonates deeply for me," she says.

Richards praised the dedication and compassion of her fellow volunteers, many of whom frequently risk their lives to save the incoming refugees.

"The Spanish lifeguards, as a group, are incredibly impressive. They physically go out into the cold water and retrieve the boats," Richards said. "They work 24/7, and I have seen them put themselves in extreme danger many times. They are all volunteers. I hope people in Spain know who they are and what they do."

Lifeguards from Spain, waiting on the arrival of a refugee boat. Photo by Rory Aurora Richards/Facebook, used with permission.


Richards also singled out a group of Israeli doctors and medics who spend their nights treating the wounded and the sick upon arrival.

Wars around the Middle East have displaced millions of people just like the man that Richards filmed on the beach.

The civil war in Syria has already displaced and uprooted over 4 million people.
Caught between Bashar al-Assad's army and ISIS, nearly a quarter of the population of that country has fled rather than stay and risk death, imprisonment, or worse. While the trip across the Mediterranean might be less hazardous, it is only barely so. Over 3,400 people have died making the crossing in 2015 alone.

Refugees wait to cross near the Greek border. Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images.

Even after making the trecherous journey, many refugees have had trouble finding a home in Europe. While Germany prepares to accept over 800,000 refugees this year, thousands more remain in refugee camps throughout the continent, prevented from crossing national borders.
"If you had a family, and children ... wouldn't you want to take them to a place where they would be most safe, and that they had the most of amount of opportunities? This is human instinct ... . Why is that shameful?"
Meanwhile, the decision to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees has ignited a political firestorm in the United States, over fears that violent extremists might be among the resettled. More than half of all state governors have declared that refugees from Syria are not welcome in their states, despite the fact that they don't actually have the power to refuse refugees.

As someone who's met dozens of refugee families, and witnessed their suffering up close, Richards says she finds this attitude frustrating and difficult to understand.

A refugee couple Richards met in Lesbos. According to Richards, they fled war in Afghanistan and arrived via a treacherous trip through Iran and Turkey. Photo by Rory Aurora Richards/Facebook, used with permission.

"They are human, with same emotions and dreams as we have," Richards said. "People say, 'Oh, well, of course they want to go to Western Europe, or the USA or Canada ... they all want to go the richest countries. Well, wouldn't you too? If you had a family, and children ... wouldn't you want to take them to a place where they would be most safe and that they had the most of amount of opportunities? This is human instinct that we all have for our children. Why is that shameful?"

As for the man in the blue and orange coat, Richards and the volunteer team were, thankfully, able to help him.

Photo by Rory Aurora Richards/Facebook, used with permission.

"Doctors went him immediately and asked him if he was injured, and then an interpreter said he was not physically hurt, he was just scared," Richards explained. "His children were being treated nearby but he lost sight of them and began to panic ... . [But] we found his children immediately and reunited them."

For the volunteers, the rescue was all in a day's work.

"You don't have too much time to process," Richards said. "The lifeguard came over to tell us that another boat was near shore and was taking on water.
"We had to flee this crisis scene to attend to another."
Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
True

This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

Keep Reading Show less
Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."