This is Laith. He's 6 years old and currently lives in the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece.

Laith, age 6. Photo via YouTube/Ignite Channel.

Keep Reading Show less
More

The island of Lesbos is a popular landing place for refugees fleeing countries in the Middle East, looking for safety. After arriving, most continue a long trek to other European countries.

Nobody can take away the difficulty and pain — both emotional and physical — that refugees endure, but there sure are a lot of people who are working hard to help.

Take Floor Nagler, a 24-year-old Amsterdam resident who is studying textiles. Radio Free Europe shared an incredible story (and photos) about an idea that struck her when she was in Lesbos in January, helping newly arrived refugees.

Keep Reading Show less
More

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.

Keep Reading Show less
More