A journey across the Mediterranean: from volunteer to refugee

Raamy was part of a medical team in Syria.

By Oscar Velasco, Emergency Communication Delegate in Greece

Inside the Police registration center at Kos there are about 200 people. They have been there for hours. Many have passed days or weeks waiting for this moment, when they will be given papers opening the doors to continental Greece. They sit on the ground; mostly men, but also family groups with small children or babies.

A young Syrian man sees volunteers from the Hellenic Red Cross, and goes over to explain that he also part of the Red Cross and Red Crescent humanitarian Movement as a volunteer with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent since 2010. "And now look how and where I am", he says.

His name is Raamy, 24, and comes from the Damascus areas. Raamy carries many memories on his mobile phone; photographs related to his work as a volunteer with the Red Crescent. In Syria, even during the conflict he was an ambulance driver and a first aid volunteer, but also provided psychosocial support to people who had lost family or friends in the violence.

Now his house and neighbourhood have been completely destroyed by bombs. He has been on the Greek island of Kos, in a room shared with other Syrians, for 15 days after arriving in a dinghy from the Turkish shore. In addition to volunteering, he was studying Archealogy when the war started and his university closed. "Now I'm in Kos. At least I'm happy because there are here plenty of Hellenistic and Medieval Archaeological sites I can visit," he says. But the talk stirs a painful memory. "We were planning to visit the ruins of Palmyra with our teachers at the University,” he says. “Now I feel ashamed about its barbarous destruction."

"The actual situation is really hard for me; I'm always crying because I left my family behind, and I really want to bring them with me."

With his registration papers from the Greek government, Raamy says he might make his way to the Netherlands, where he plans to resume his civic duties. "I would like to become a volunteer for the Red Cross again in my new home."