The meaning of Lesbos. The first time I went there as a volunteer is already three years ago. It was winter 2018 and I did not have any expectations. Although, I had an urging feeling to go back there as if I owed it to the island. When I was younger, I always used to go on holiday to Lesbos. It is the first place where I learned snorkelling which sparked my appreciation for the sea. I enjoyed the island and its beauty so much while it was doing well. However, when all the articles around 2015 about the massive stream of refugees arriving every day came through, I knew I had to see it for myself.
I think seeing things for yourself and therefore being a witness is something I owed to the island. However, since I only went there three times as a volunteer for a shorter period, I think I had lesser of an impact. But being a witness of this reality and transforming it into a story and bringing that story back to tell it to the people here, is what can still be impactful. So, I have been going back there ever since.
There is something weird about it. Every time I go back there or planning on going back, I look forward to being on Lesbos again. This might be strange as it is a place of disaster with two refugee camps, Moria being the biggest and most famous one as it has been in the media a lot, and Kara Tepe the smaller one. However, when I am in those camps, it is the moment I feel the most hope regarding the situation at hand. But when I am back, I feel the most hopeless instead as I am forced to zone out and think about the bigger problem.
Being at Lesbos and being with the people that are at the middle of the refugee crisis, I do not like calling it a crisis but that is what the media has named it, the kindness and the humour of the people is what gives me hope.
I know a lot of people on the island now, so every time I go back, I go back to my second family, my second home in a way. That is the main reason why I always miss it as well when I am back in the Netherlands. I honestly think if it was not for EUC, I would have been there at this very moment. Therefore, I know that I want and need to go back to Lesbos for longer which is the plan for after EUC, as it is after all my second home.