“That smile was our strength to continue”

Margariti Stamatia is Leader of the Sea Rangers of Kos, Greece - one stop of many on a long journey for many people who have fled their home countries as refugees. Margariti wrote about her experiences of the crisis, and how the Sea Rangers of Kos have been helping people arriving on the island.

In July 2015, “different” people than usual were arriving on our island, Kos. These people were not here because of tourism but because of a need for survival.

Guides running activities with refugeesIn the endless blue sea there were boats… not small boats of families that were playing in the sea during their vacations, nor boats of the local people that were fishing or doing their job… These boats were full of scared people – children, women and men - wearing sea life jackets and with confusion in their eyes. On the one hand we could see their feeling of the fear and on the other hand, the jubilation that they had reached the land. We were filled with awe and admiration for these people - young, old, children and pregnant women. Even though they were hungry, thirsty and tired from the many kilometres they had walked, their only aim was to reach Kos Island in order to move from here onwards to the country of their choice.

Guides play balloon game with refugeesInitially, the situation was evolving normally and the good weather was helpful for people. The non-governmental organizations of our island and many volunteers were helping to provide the refugees with food and dry clothes. At this point in time, the Sea Rangers of Kos left for their summer camp - the camp that we attend every year - in order to go somewhere in Greece and “lend our hands” to the place that we visit through our camp community service.

Guides distribute food to refugee familiesHowever, while we were at the camp, we were informed that the needs had changed and had become huge on our island, and that our help would be very significant. So, we returned back. When we arrived, the situation was obvious from the port already: thousands of people around, people without shoes, people asking for food, and even for our sleeping bags.

We didn’t wait long to work on the situation. We gathered and started helping every day: we were sorting and tidying the clothes that were collected for the refugees, and we were preparing and distributing food twice every day. Those tasks were accomplished every day by any young or old Guide of Kos. We were just wearing our scarves and doing this job, having left behind our personal matters.

Guides run activities with refugee childrenOur reward was only the gratitude in the eyes of the refugees and immigrants. We were doing various activities and games with the refugee children and as a result they were smiling! That smile was our strength to continue.

The difference between Guiding and other organizations was the fact that our activities were carried out by our young members, who are still children themselves. This proves once again the importance of the Guiding values – our young members are a friend to these new children without question. They are learning early on the value of accepting and respecting others, and being prepared to help in any situation.

It has been 10 months since then and we are still on the front line, to lend our hands all together - our troops, our leaders, our local committee and our friends - and to offer smiles to those around us.

We continue to wear our scarves and help wherever there is need: to support people emotionally, to offer them first aid, or even to cover a drowned child.

Our Guiding Law and Promise lead us to support these people by offering whatever we have and whatever we can… We only wish that the wars all around the world come to an end and people everywhere can live in peace.

- Margariti Stamatia
Leader of Sea Rangers of Kos
Local Commissioner of Kos

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