Norwegian artist, songwriter, and producer Gaute Ormåsen chose to travel to Greece with A Drop in the Ocean to contribute as a voluntary fieldworker, to experience the situation with his own eyes. The children made the biggest impact on Gaute, and after he became a parent himself, his compassion for refugees has grown immensely. Read more about Gaute’s experience as a voluntary fieldworker with A Drop in the Ocean here.
Written by: Vibeke Hoem, Information Officer, A Drop in the Ocean / Translated by: Hanne Buller, HR- and information assistant, A Drop in the Ocean
Why did you become a voluntary fieldworker?
– At the time of departure, I was carrying a lot of different emotions and had many questions I needed the answer to. The situation had a lot of media coverage at the time. The picture of the dead boy – Alan Kurdi – on the beach, people who are tripping refugees by kicking their legs, in conjunction with a lot of discussions going on at home. One side was claiming that fortune seekers and terrorists were coming, whilst the other side showcased compassion and symphathised with the refugees.
I spent a long time discussing the issue on social media, but quickly realised I was stumbling around in claims coming from left and right, not knowing whether the allegations were right or wrong. Anyhow, I was not very successful in helping anyone with my involvement.
I decided to have a look at the situation with my own eyes, and to help wherever I was needed. The children were on top of my head, they are always innocent, no matter what.
Where did you work, and what were your main tasks?
– I travelled to Lesvos at the end of September 2015. I rented a car, so that I would be able to bring necessities such as water, food, nappies, etc. I spent a lot of time on the beach when boats were arriving. Sometimes I did not need to help, as there were plenty of other people around to help, whereas other times there was only two or three of us stood on top of piles of rock in the ocean, trying to keep our balance and carry babies and toddlers ashore.
Which experiences did you have as a volunteer?
– My questions were answered. In a way, a lot of the claims were right. All different kinds of people were coming in, mostly Syrians and Afghans, but also other nationalities. They were just like you and me, well-behaved, and often well-educated, polite people, who showed great appreciation for the help they receive from us.
I witnessed with my own two eyes the importance of volunteers, as the big aid organisations are not able to present everywhere. I do not believe that I saved life during my stay, but I am convinced that A Drop in the Ocean have saved lives.
Did something or someone make a significant impact on you?
– The children, always. It was incredibly saddening to see them sleep out on the pavement at night.
Has your stay as a fieldworker affected you after coming home?
– Since going to Lesvos, I have become a parent to two children. When I see how well of my kids are, it makes me incredibly happy and simultaneously sad because it often occurs to me how little help I am to children on the run when I give all my love to my own children. I feel bad for the injustice in the world, and that myself and my children are so incredibly lucky.
Do you want to become a fieldworker? Read more about volunteering here