At the lifejacket graveyard…By Sindhuja Sankaran

What do you do on your day off? I was lucky enough to have a day off after 2 days of work so I decided to sleep in…and woke up at11am! Yikes! But luckily a fellow volunteer had proposed going to the ‘Life jacket Graveyard’ near Eftalou Beach, the three of us headed out there at around noon. It was a long drive as we’d literally be going from one end of the island to the other.

So, what happened around the area of the lifejacket Graveyard? Syrian and Afghani refugees fled from wars and departed Turkish shores about 4km away to arrive at this place in Lesbos. This is literally the place where all adult, child life jackets, inflatable rubber boats, discarded clothing, shoes and old boats are taken from the shores while the refugees go in search of survival. The lifejackets are essentially carried by volunteers and transported to this ‘dump/graveyard’. 

The lifejacket graveyard or the ‘mountain of misery’ is realistic because each jacket here represented an individual riddled with anxiety and fear fleeing a war-torn area. It is also symbolic to the extent it shows a huge reminder of the resilience of the human spirit that stretches across borders. Walking through this area was a sobering and at the same time a harrowing experience. We saw torn and tattered life vests, discarded shoes and pieces of clothing, baby car seats, deflated boat tyres, the sponge from the life vest that peeked out screaming 'I was not good enough for a lifejacket..'
I walked up a bit just to disconnect from this a bit and think a little, reflect a little…see the site in its entire entity and that moment was undeniably very powerful. I couldn’t help but think parallels between what is happening now and the holocaust. Humanity suffered back then, humanity is suffering now. Discarded  shoes during the holocaust times are displayed at Auschwitz …we have shoes on the shore here of people who were running for their lives. History is repeating it self and it seems like no lesson is being learnt.

After a rather powerful hour spent, we went in search of a restaurant for food and had the best Pita bread and tomatoes (people here don’t understand why I enjoy Greek tomatoes…I live in Poland…yes, that’s why). The weather was beautiful, the view was gorgeous (much needed view to counter the earlier one) and after lunch we drove back listening to some fine classic rock songs – The Kinks, Oasis, Jefferson Airplane, Doobie Brothers, Beatles. Others are out for a drink but today, I wanted to stay in. It was a long and an emotionally loaded day.

By Sindhuja Sankaran


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