“I see people for just a few minutes, but I will remember them all my life.”

Publié: 6 octobre 2015 19:00 CET

Maria Louvrou, a nurse from the Hellenic Red Cross is currently deployed on the Greek island of Samos, providing first aid and medical support for thousands of people arriving from across the Mediterranean. She said every day was different. “The rhythm of our days is set by arrivals and departures of hundreds people. The number fluctuates between a hundred to up to a thousand. Many are tired, weakened by their journey and by various pains. Our mission is to assist them with first aid as well as advanced treatment if needed,” she explained.

People on the move often have serious medical needs. As many people have to sleep outside, and often lack good sanitation, they can be prone to insect bites and infection. The long and tiring walks can cause severe pains and blisters.

Since the middle of August, more than 1,040 people, including many children, have been assisted by the Hellenic Red Cross medical teams on Samos. For those in need of advanced treatment or emergency care, a partnership has been established with the hospital in Samos.

“Everything will be fine with the Red Cross by my side”

Most migrants stay only a day in the port of Samos before taking a ferry to Athens, where they continue their journey through Europe.

This is not the typical way Maria works but, she said, it’s vital that each person she sees is treated with dignity and respect. “I see people for a few minutes and give them first aid, and they leave. However, I will remember of all of them for all of my life, their stories and their smiles.

“I will never forget one Syrian woman I met. She was very young and extremely beautiful. She was travelling with her children and had lost everything. Looking at her, I could see courage, but also helplessness and fear. After I had treated her children suffering from dehydration and insect bites, she asked me in a quiet and serious manner, if everybody in Europe were as nice and friendly as us. She told me she hoped that everything would be fine with the Red Cross by her side.”

As the need for medical assistance has grown recently, a mobile clinic was deployed on Samos on 27 September. New volunteers recruited from the University of Samos have also been trained to support the Hellenic Red Cross in its response. In addition, the Hellenic Red Cross is distributing food and hygiene kits, as well as providing psychosocial support and restoring family links for those in need arriving on the island.