When a stranger helps a child across the street or the elderly with grocery bags, it is called a random act of kindness. Some would go as far as to say that they don’t happen anymore. They would be mistaken. As recent tragedies in the world have demonstrated, when faced with extreme situations, some communities rise to the occasion. Such is the case with the people of Lampedusa, their fishermen and first responders who risked their lives to give hope to thousands upon thousands of African migrants who made the perilous trip across the Mediterranean Sea looking for a better life.
Aquarius team rescuing migrants
Following the Arab spring, the world woke up to images of overcrowded fishermen boats carrying hundreds of African migrants from Tunisia and Libya attempting to cross to the Italian Island of Lampedusa. In 2013, we watched in horror as hundreds died before reaching the Island. In response to this tragedy, European capitals opted for a military and humanitarian mission called ‘Mare Nostrum’.
One year later the operation was cancelled and replaced with a policing operation aimed at dissuading and turning away migrants without rescuing them.
‘SOS Méditerranée’ and ‘Doctors Without Borders’ decided to act and organized rescue missions aboard the “Aquarius’ on the central part of the Mediterranean Sea where most migrants perished.
The flow of migrants may have slowed down but the crisis is ongoing. For the people of Lampedusa, welcoming them in their lives, sheltering them in their homes and giving them hope for the future is no random act of kindness. It is simply the right thing to do.
Across Europe, many followed suit, teaching their governments the most valuable lesson that our common humanity is worth more than the color of one’s skin.
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Aljazeera, Lampedusa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxZFejcjR7w
Aquarius rescue, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7ulRd8_Brg