Local volunteer highlights plight of refugees
Gibraltarian Dan Teuma, founder of CalAid, has turned his attention from the refugee crisis in Calais to that of Greece and the Mediterranean Sea.
He will be giving a talk on his experiences in the past year on the refugee crisis tonight at 5.30 in the Yoga Centre. The talk will also include a question and answer section where he will invite the public to ask about the many facades of his work.
Mr Teuma [pictured above first from the left] is the humanitarian solutions advisor for the grass roots movement The World Wide Tribe.
He has recently completed an intensive week of training with Atlantic Pacific International Rescue Boat Project, acquiring the skills needed to undertake search and rescue operations in the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea.
Currently in Gibraltar for the month of August getting some much needed rest Mr Teuma will return to Greece in September and spend his time between there and forming part of search and rescue teams conducting operations in the Mediterranean off Libya.
Mr Teuma spent the first six months of this year in Greece, working from midnight to midday everyday assisting refugees who arrived by boat. He said that as many as 30 boats arrive an hour, each with approximately 70 people on board.
Some of the refugees are in ok health, but many are recovering from surgeries where they have sold organs to pay for their trip, some are pregnant having been raped on their journey to desired safety, some are ill due to lack of food and hygiene, many are suffering from hypothermia. Many children come ashore on these boats, some with such ailing health emergency attention is needed right there on the shoreline.
Come midday Mr Teuma finishes on the beach, he then works from 1pm to 7pm in the camp, distributing food, clothes and doing all that was necessary to help. After this he sleeps for three hours before returning to the beach at midnight.
Mr Teuma worked these hours, seeing the humanitarian crisis he is seeing – with no training in how to deal with it - for around £1,000 a month, just enough to cover his living expenses.
Aware that the life he has chosen is not one that is easy for either a person’s body or mind, Mr Teuma still believes he has found his calling and said: “This is what I want, I want to do this for the rest of my life.”
His passion is people and giving back to as many people as he can who are not in the same fortunate position he is in.
While on the Rock Mr Teuma aims to ask the Gibraltar Government how prepared is it for refugees to come ashore here. He believes that with around half of the population of Bangladesh expected to be displaced within the next five years due to flooding, these climate change refugees could arrive on boats in Camp Bay and Gibraltar needs to be ready for this.
In addition, to Gibraltar needing to be ready to support and welcome climate change refugees Mr Teuma said it needs to be ready to assist economic and war refugees too.
He said Gibraltar would be very vulnerable to refugees as are many places along the Mediterranean and said some organisations are including the Rock in the forecasting of what could happen within the next five years.
Mr Teuma hopes to inspire fellow Gibraltarians into getting more involved in the global refugees crisis in any way they can, be it via hands on, documenting events or via donations.
To find out more information about Mr Teuma and his work go along to his presentation at the Yoga Centre tonight, alternatively contact him via www.theworldwidetribe.com
Main photo by Olga Saliampoukou