The Refugee Crisis: Through the Eyes of the Children by Robert and Robin Jones. Santa Barbara, CA: Blue Point Books, 2016. $19.95. Website: http://www.throughtheeyesofthechildren.com
Arriving in Molivos, Lesbos for a summer break, Robert and Robin Jones quickly became caught up in the refugee crisis engulfing the island that had been their second home for over forty years. Initially Robin and Robert provided water to weary refugees walking along the roads of Lesbos, grateful to have arrived in Europe. Soon, Robin, an artist who holds a certificate in art instruction, began providing marking pens and paper to recently arrived refugee children awaiting transport to processing centers at the other end of the island.
The children’s drawings are the centerpiece of this moving book, while Robin’s photographs and Robert’s words set them in the context of one of the many humanitarian crises of our time. “According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 1,000,573 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe from the Middle East and North Africa during 2015. Of these, some 850,000 landed on the Greek islands. Of these, 49 per cent were Syrian, 21 per cent Afghan and eight per cent Iraqi.” 573, 625 arrived in the island of Lesbos between January 2015 and February 2016.
In this image a refugee child draws the sun scowling at tanks shooting at people at the top, a refugee boat crossing the sea in the center, and the sun smiling on a peaceful landscape at the bottom. Some people appear to have fallen into the sea in the center panel. Not everyone makes it to the other side.
Emira recreates the happy faces of children arriving on the shore, inscribing her name in the clouds and in the trees as if to underscore her safe passage.
Another child hopes to find a new home filled with love rising from the water at the end of the journey across the sea.
Robin’s photographs document the arrival.
The efforts of volunteers.
The life jackets and rubber rafts left behind. These were later removed by local authorities and volunteers.
And the need to support the people of the stunningly beautiful island of Lesbos which suffered a 70-80% decline in tourism in 2016, leaving many of the locals in dire economic staits.
Robert’s words tell the story concisely and incisively, speaking to the heart of the matter, ignoring the political debates and divisions that inevitably accompany a crisis of this nature.
If you are looking for a gift to give a friend who cares about the future of our world this holiday season or if you need cheering up yourself, The Refugee Crisis: Through the Eyes of the Children will provide the much-needed glimmer of hope that we can make a difference. All proceeds go to IsraAID, a non-profit foundation that joined the many groups of volunteers working with the refugees in Lesbos.
Order directly from the publisher or via Amazon. Photos by Robin Jones downloaded from the website. Donate to help refugees in Lesbos and the people of the island through Starfish Foundation, a local NGO. To take a stand against U.S. wars and militarism and to support peace and human rights initiatives join Code Pink.
The flow of refugees and migrants has slowed since the implementation of an an agreement in March 2016 between Turkey and the European Union. However, there are indications that this agreement is beginning to break down, with over 500 refugees arriving in Lesbos in the past few days.
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Carol P. Christ’s new book written with Judith Plaskow is Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. They are co-editors of Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions. Carol wrote the first Goddess feminist theology, Rebirth of the Goddess and the process feminist theology, She Who Changes.
Carol P. Christ leads the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. Join the 2017 spring and fall tours now and save $150.