KOS – RIP, dear precious refugees

The alarm clock went off at 05:00, as usual. Dazed we turn it off and jump straight out of bed, worried that we might fall asleep if we stay any longer. Fatigue has started to settle into our daily routine.
Brenda, a new volunteer who arrived here on Kos yesterday, is coming with us to the beach. The winds and currents have changed recently so nowadays we go to the East side of Kos city rather than the West.

As we drive through Kos we see a group of men walking along the side of the road. They must have arrived that morning; why else would anyone be walking there at 05:30. We arrive at the beach and wait. We scan the waters with our binoculars to look for incoming boats. We see none. Then a journalist and a cameraman from Bulgaria approach us and tell us that a group of Afghan men have just arrived. They had been travelling with two boats, one with only men, and one with families and children. When a wave hit the family boat it capsized. The men in the other boat couldn’t help due to the strong currents and were left to watch as the other boat slowly disappeared.

I feel my body tense up and am nauseated. My throat squeezes shut and I am no longer able to talk. I turn around and stare at the water. It takes a little while before realization settles in: we’re standing here, waiting for a boat that will never come. It is too much. I cannot comprehend it.

The sun continues to come up and we stay, wait, and continue to search with our binoculars. I decide to walk a bit along the water’s edge, a moment to pray by myself away from the rest of the group. That’s when the tears come. I let them flow over my cheeks, I let it all out.

After an hour we decide to leave. I’m sitting next to Brenda and am looking out over the water. Suddenly I see something floating. We stop the car and grab our binoculars. It’s an empty inflatable boat. The pain in my body returns as we watch a fisherman’s boat slowly approach it. A man crosses over and then goes back, leaving the empty boat behind. We assume he probably punctured it.

Back at the hotel sleep evades me completely. I’m wide awake and paralyzed with emotions. They day hasn’t even started yet…

RIP, dear precious refugees.

(By Jolanda Kromhout https://vrijspraak.wordpress.com, | Translated by Selma Rooseboom)