In a firsthand account on The Huffington Post, actor and activist Susan Sarandon wrote of her experience on the beaches of Lesbos, Greece, as refugees navigated their way through rocky waters to the shore. There, the embattled voyagers would find medical attention as well as warm, dry clothes and blankets. Sarandon felt called to experience the rescue effort for herself, citing a deep desire to know who these people are, the conditions that prompted their frightening journey, and where they will go next. "I have come to hear their stories and learn," she wrote.
Sarandon describes encountering a 5-year-old Iranian girl named Semihan, who had arrived alongside her father, mother, and two brothers. The Oscar winner won over the scared girl, putting dry socks on her feet and offering her a juice box, which she subsequently drained out of thirst. Sarandon then described a powerful connection with Semihan's mother, whose nerves were understandably rattled upon arrival.
As a mother of two two sons and a daughter herself, Sarandon shared tears with the woman and did the best she could in that moment to comfort her. "I can see that she’s trying to hold it together," she wrote. When we make eye contact, I touch her shoulder and tell her in a language that she can’t understand that I’m happy she made it safely. With that little bit of kindness, she breaks...I can’t imagine what state of desperation could make getting on this overcrowded, rickety boat seem like a good idea."
Millions of displaced families have fled their homes, just as Semihan and her family have. World Vision offers sobering statistics on its site — 13.5 million Syrians require humanitarian aid, 4.3 million Syrians are refugees, and 6.6 million are displaced in Syria itself. Half of these are children.
OPENER IMAGE: Rob Latour/REX Shutterstock.