This year over 207.000 people tried to migrate to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea. More than 3420 of them died (probably many more, because how do you count a group of anonymous dead?) in their attempts. At least another 3000 of them would have died had it not been for Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS).
MOAS was founded by Regina en Christopher Catrambone, an Italian-American couple living on the Island of Malta. After almost 366 would-be migrants died off the shores of Lampedusa, the Pope spoke of "global indifference". The Catrambones listened and could no longer be indifferent. They decided to act by buying a ship and looking for refugees at sea. They found people who were in boats so jam-packed, they had to take turns sitting. They rescued people who were dehydrated and who couldn't move their legs from being stacked in unseaworthy vessels.
"If people are dying in your backyard and you turn your head, what kind of humanity do you have?" said Regina Catrambone. Her husband says Europe is losing its credibility in this issue.
The topic seems like a hot potato between European countries. If we bring these refugees to shore, where will we put them? Who will pay for it? How fast can we label them as economic immigrants and send them back to their countries?
It is a complicated problem and I'm not writing this to say I have a solution. I write because I am encouraged by the humanity demonstrated by the Catrambones and their colleagues Ordinary people who care and who can't sit still while other human beings are drowning so close to their comfortable home.
In philosophy class I learnt that it's the face of the stranger that appeals to our own humanity. The stranger in needs knocks on your door and you can try to shut him out and pretend all is well, unless you open the door and look him in the eyes. Then you will meet this stranger and you will hear his story and you will see that the need is real and urgent.
I think the increasingly large numbers of people fleeing to Europe are a loud knock on our door. The Catrambone family had the guts to open that door, instead of looking away. These people don't solve the entire refugee-problem, but they certainly bring a blow to the growing problem of global indifference!