(NEWS CENTER) - We all saw the photos and TV stories this spring of refugees pouring into Greece. The lucky ones often arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The unlucky ones, lifeless, washed up on the shore.
Bethany Snow, a graduate of Scarborough High School who now lives in Biddeford, saw those images and decided she had to help, even though she had no particular expertise in refugee assistance.
“I have two strong hands,” she says. “I’m able to communicate with people. I have a willingness and a lot of times that’s all it takes.”
For nearly two months, Snow lived on the Greek island of Lesbos, just miles from Turkey, through which most of the refugees traveled as they fled ISIS in their native countries. Most of the refugees arrived on Lesbos after being packed into shoddy boats by ruthless smugglers. Sixty people might be crammed into a vessel meant to hold ten. Many of the refugees had never before even been in a boat. “The smuggler takes them to the water’s edge and says, ‘You’re driving the boat.’ If they protest and say I don’t know how to drive the boat, [they’ll] get shot in the leg.”
Anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand refugees arrived on Lesbos every week. Some would move on to a country that would take them in; some would be deported. At any given time three to five thousand refugees were living on the island.
Despite the hardship and heartbreak she witnessed among people who possessed nothing but hope for a better future, Snow found the experience of helping refugees inspiring—and life-changing. Upon returning to Maine, she says, “the first thing I did when I got home was make a huge bag of stuff for Goodwill. I was like, I don’t need all these things. For two months I lived out of a suitcase. And I didn’t want for anything.”
For more information on the immigrant crisis and how you can help go to the following links: