It was an unexpected, yet delightful experience to have comedian Ruby Wax visit the team in Samos.
Often referred to as the new Lesbos, Samos is currently receiving boatloads of refugees and is drastically above capacity. With only one official camp, it means that the local projects we partner with are critical for the health and wellbeing of the refugees arriving. It was Ruby’s curiosity about the island’s situation and eagerness to learn more that led her to book a last-minute trip.
Ruby spent three days with us learning about the refugee and migrant crisis, and was unafraid to ask honest and earnest questions to better understand why people were there. The normality of life in such an abnormal situation, and the ability for the refugees to carry on with strength and humility is what struck Ruby the most.
During meetings with volunteers, she was equally intrigued as to why they had come to Samos, and how they balance the pressures of returning home with the pull of being of service to others.
Ruby teaching meditation in Samos
At each project she visited, Ruby heard the stories and ordeals of the refugees. As a trained mental health and mindfulness advocate, Ruby led a pilates and mindfulness class for female refugees at a women’s space. Moved by the day-to-day realities of their lives, she decided to take some members of the class for a brief respite; a pampering session at the local manicure shop.
Despite the indescribable struggles the refugees have endured, Ruby was in awe of the warmth and openness she was welcomed with. It was also particularly humbling to see that a sense of humour has prevailed in the camp.
Like Ruby, many volunteers continue to open their hearts and minds to the world beyond their comforts, wanting to not only educate themselves, but make what difference they can in a challenging situation. We are so grateful to Ruby for her kindness and for raising awareness about Samos and the value of volunteering.