As a photographer, I rely on images from around the world to stay on top of news events. But in 2016 i found that despite all of the harrowing images coming out of the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe, i didn’t feel like i had a solid grasp of what was unfolding there. I honestly wasn’t sure what to believe. I thought, You know what? I’m going to Lesvos to see for myself what’s going on.
So in early February 2016, i packed my bags and left my home in Amsterdam for Lesvos, Greece, an island widely viewed as a ground zero for the crisis because of its location as a gateway to the rest of the continent. (Roughly 30,000 migrants arrived in there in February alone.) I made my way to the Moria refugee camp, which at the time was home to about 4,000 refugees, where the severity of the crisis was palpable. In an instant, I knew things were worse than I ever expected.
I could see the fear and a complete lack of understanding for what’s going to happen in the eyes of the Rufugees. They’ve been going from smuggler to smuggler, treated like animals. But when I looked into their eyes, I realized they had names, families, hopes, and dreams. I thought, Oh, my God, you are not from a different world. You are me, and I am you.
I decided to stay for as long as i could, and so i did. So in 2016 I stayed for 9 months, and i have been actively helping out in every way i could.