Journalist Jeanne Carstensen just returned home to Mullen Ave. in Bernal Heights, but not long ago she was on the Greek island of Lesbos, reporting on the Middle Eastern refugee crisis. A sample of the experiences she had there:
Asas doesn’t have enough money to pay the smugglers and worries how he will be able to work in Turkey, where Syrians have no legal status. Nour checks his cell phone frequently looking for a message from his contact. He shows me the life jacket under the table. He had expected to take a bus to the boat the night before but the hook up was called off due to iffy weather. Now he doesn’t know for sure when he will leave.
Yet they both insist on inviting me to tea. This detail — of hospitality offered in a moment of extremis — sticks with me. I had gone to the Basmane neighborhood with some trepidation. After all, it’s the center of human trafficking, as it’s called, the business of moving people illegally across borders. Looking around me I wondered who was who, who was a trafficker, or a middleman, or a refugee. But when I sat down to interview Asas and Nour and others with my microphone held close to their faces I quickly felt at ease.
I offered to pay for the tea but they would not accept. And when beggars came by our table, the refugees reached into their pockets for coins. No one was turned down.
In this video filmed on Lesbos, Neighbor Jeanne explains how the refugee situation there has unfolded:
Hat Tip: Neighbor Mark
PHOTO: Scene at the Sindad Cafe in Lesbos, by Jeanne Carstensen