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Even The Water Was Warm - Benjamin Gow

Even The Water Was Warm

A few days ago we had more “luxury” boats arriving than we have since I’ve been here. For whatever reason, be it weather or politics, big wooden boats started again.

This was my first of these large boats. It was easy to see from the shore as it was filled to the brim with people. There were even people sitting on the roof and around the sides. It was as if the boat was outlined by lifejackets.

These boats come in much quicker. Once they are spotted by the watchtower, it’s not really long before they are hitting the shore. Just about enough time for the teams to get to the beach, and give the prep talk.

Having a deeper keel than a dinghy, and unable to know what the run into shore was like, it came to a very sudden halt about 10 yards from actual dry land. Everyone onboard lunged forward.

The procedure is to form a line from the beach to the boat, with each person going deeper and deeper into the water, according to strength and experience in an ideal world. We form a chain of support.

There were so many people on this boat that if I wasn’t passing a bag down the line, I was holding a child to take to the beach. If my hand wasn’t holding someone’s to help them cross, it was reaching out to help another.

250 people later the boat was empty. The lifeguards jumped on board to search for the driver, and most likely the smuggler, but found nothing.

Today was a good day. Remarkably everyone was OK. Lots of happy faces and greetings. Children giggling and throwing stones at the sea. People phoning families to say they had made it safe. The air became this victorious sigh of relief. Even the water was warm.

There was a sheer feeling of happiness, from not only the refugees but the volunteers as well. It felt normal for a moment.

I returned to beach duty and didn’t even notice that my shoes were sloshing with water until I was in a car going “home” at the end of the day.

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