Friday, January 1, 2016

of the immigration to Europe

The other night I had a dream which is haunting me.  Haunting me to ask if this is this is just a dream or a possible reality.  The dream was about a website, life vests, and immigrants.

Few photos are as disturbing as the ones we see of the immigrants landing on the Greek shores of Lesbos or the Italian shores in Palermo.

These people so desperate to leave their homes that they risk their lives in rickety boats and flimsy life vests.  The disbelief on their faces when they realize that they made it.  The joy of seeing their children on a new dry land.

The burden is huge and the number that arrive is incredible, overwhelming.  The discussion in the United States about the Mexican American border pales in reality.  Building a wall may be our discussion, but building a way to cope and accommodate is Angela Merkel 's responsibility and compassionate obligation.  Europe struggles to follow her lead and make room for all.

It is also affecting so many other countries.  refugees-and-life-jackets-fill-the-shops is an article from the New York Times reflecting on the life jacket sales in Turkey.  In Lesbos, it is another matter.  

"Since the beginning of the year, the number of refugees and migrants arriving here and on other Greek islands has surged to full-scale humanitarian-crisis levels. Arrivals by sea have surpassed 107,000 through July, according to United Nations figures, eclipsing even the numbers of people reaching Italy. Most of those who arrive on the shores of Lesbos, a popular tourist destination just off the coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea, are fleeing the wars in Syria and Afghanistan and hoping to head deeper into Western Europe.  In June, 15,254 migrants and refugees arrived on Lesbos, according to the Greek Coast Guard, compared with 921 the same month last year.  But only squalor awaits them here. They arrive in a country that is deep in its own crisis, with an unemployment rate over 25 percent, banks not fully open and its government all but broke."

I have not seen this with my own eyes, but the photos are real, the photographers living in these moments are seeing it for me.

So, back to my dream.  What if, just what if, the life jackets that are so valuable on one side of the water could be valuable on the other side. 

What if we had an organization that was present when the people landed to take the jackets. What if they wrote a name or a phrase on the jacket that said how they felt making it across the water. The statement could be a brief thanks or a prayer or a name.

My dream was that the persons or organization could photograph the jackets. They could include the name of the person or their hands or a trinket or just a saying. The photo could be put on a website that allowed people to "adopt" the jacket before it is retired. The funds for the adoption could pay volunteers, local communities, and the immigrants.

This mess of jackets doesn't have to be the future.  Many people would be grateful to send $5 or $10 on social media to support the cause.  Families everywhere would gladly use their #VISA or #AMEX cards to pay the adoption fee.  Giant corporations like #VISA and #Mastercard could lend their support to the cause.  And somewhere there are brilliant programmers like #Anonymous that would help build a site for the process.  It was just a dream.  I woke up and it felt so real.  I don't know enough about #internationalrelief or #UNHCR or saving people.  I just know that life jackets are just that.  This pile and every other pile has done their job of protecting the person wearing it.

It just seems like we could make something more of it than an abandoned pile of the most risky event ever. It seems we could help Greece and Italy with the job they are doing. There are a plethora of volunteers on the shores that could also use the help. The WSJ article references many volunteers trying to raise money to go to Lesbos and help. They site that volunteers use is for individuals who want funding to go and help. Kickstarter is one. Very admirable.  I even considered this.  I would love to be a solid contributor.  I am not sure I would be.  I am not sure that getting money to go is the best use of the money.

But, I know that people want to connect.  Adopting something, like a life jacket, makes it yours; and even if it is a life jacket from a person, it will be a single person that risked their life that you can relate to on a one to one basis.

I can show you more pictures, but what I really want to know is if my dream is possible. I want to know if people that know me think it is real enough or if it was just a great dream.  I can find the resources, I can't find the hearts.

Let me know your thoughts.

and now the NYTs says this: