You were a voluntary fieldworker in 2015 and 2016, what experiences did you have during your stay?
– I have been to Lesvos with A Drop in the Ocean to help refugees arriving by boat, twice, the first time in December of 2015 and the second time in February 2016. Meeting people who put their lives at risk to flee from horrible conditions in their native countries made a huge impact on me. The unfortunate agreement during Turkey and EU was implemented during my second stay, and this agreement was the foundation of the humanitarian refugee crisis that has occurred in Greece today.
What are your thoughts regarding the refugee crisis today?
– Ever since I was a fieldworker, I have been keeping a close eye to the situation of refugees stuck in Greece, both on the mainland and the islands. It is with disgrace and shamefulness I witness how we Europeans close our eyes, ears, hearts, and borders for these poor people. Many of which are children. They are treated like criminals. Therefore, I have spent a long time considering possible ways for me to help put the humanitarian crisis in the spotlight. To contribute to more people – in Norway and Europe – opening their eyes, hearts, and borders, to accept these people, our fellow human beings, to give them the opportunity to have a safe existence and live a dignified life.
How did you come up with the idea of a solidarity march?
– I was spending my Christmas holiday with my eldest son in New Zealand when the idea of marching the opposite route of the refugees through Europe occurred. It was my way of meeting them along the way. The destination would be Moria camp on Lesvos where I stopped by when I was at Lesvos, which is possibly the worst of the camps, with too many people crammed into a small space with lack of access to basic sanitary needs. I am turning 62 years in June and will retire. It will be meaningful to me and rewarding to kick-off my retirement with this solidarity march.
What do you want to achieve with this solidarity march?
– It is my hope that I can use this solidarity march to reach as many people as possible, and make them realise that the refugee crisis is far from over. In turn, this can help put a greater pressure on the governments in the EU and Norway, to make us take in more refugees and give them a dignified life, so that we can put an end to the humanitarian crisis, and close the refugee camps for good.