Silver Linings

Although there is much sadness to write about, I want to share a happy story. A happy story that had me shedding tears of love, gratitude & happiness. 

Jean-Sébastien wrote the post below on Facebook yesterday morning. Kelly, Scott, Jaymarie and I had been in chatting with him and Jan and the rest of the gang from Clowns Without Borders before our ferry trip to Chios. 

This restaurant has been my favorite on Lesvos this past week. My first night I didn’t have enough cash to cover my bill and they don’t take cards. The owner told me to pay it when I had it. I did, of course, the next night when I went for dinner 😊

Here is Jean-Sébastien’s post:

Last night, here in lesbos, in the restaurant or we have our habits with the team of “clowns without borders” – a traditional restaurant Greek held by two twin brothers who cooks so well and for nothing (fresh tuna steak 300 G + accompaniment for 6,50 €!?) -‘s arrival a first family of Syrian refugees, then a 2th, then a 3th, 4th, 5th…

One of the bosses asked my friend Sabine Choucair, Lebanese Clown, come and translate the map in Arabic. She’s so grown from family to family for their describe the menu, and little by little, the tables were covered with large plates full of food warm and abundant.

The faces tired and anxious are relaxed, the mouths are untied.

The restaurant to finished by bleed out, and we found “between us”, The team of the restaurant, the team of clowns and a Syrian family.

We communicated as we could in Greek, English, Arabic. Little by little we bonded, and I could even play with one of their son, Omar, who barely a few hours earlier, soaked in the arms of his mother, trying not to die drowned in a rubber boat overcrowded.

Omar was very serene, very inquisitive, full of energy, to move the legs in its combination too big for him, but dry at least.

He has even offered a few big smiles, these smiles that are so beautiful that your heart opens all alone, whether you like it or not.

Omar has 3 months, and Omar’s fine.

Omar is the European tomorrow, with all due respect to all those who close their arms.

Welcome my grand, ahla w ‘ Sahla, welcome!

PS: when parents have wanted to pay the bill, the boss has refused. All is not lost in this complicated world…

All is not lost.

 

Jean-Sébastien and Omar, Lesvos, Greece


My dear readers, all is not lost ❤️

Ciao! 

Lesvos

Day 4Up at 0600 for some meditation and reflection prior to heading off to the airport. €4 bus tix to airport and a short, 2 hour hop to Athens from Rome. I was surrounded by a team of Judo and Karate youth heading to a tournament. When we landed they broke out in very loud cheers! Scared the crap out of me! LOL

5 hour layover in Athens and now I’m sitting on the plane waiting for my flight to Lesvos. 

Total spent on my 2 day Rome layover: €71! That’s food, ground transport and accommodation!

Arrived in Lesvos around 830 pm and picked up by Kelly. 

The house we are staying in is just 2 km from the airport and right on the beach facing Turkey, which is 6 miles across the Aegean Sea. 

As I was getting coffee Wednesday morning, a boat of refugees literally landed on the beach in front of us. Below is the remnants of the very skimpy inflatable boat that is loaded with 30-50 men, women and children. 

The sea has been rough, keep the refugees in your heart, for their safety. 

More tomorrow. 

Ciao! 

 

You can see Turkey 6 miles over.

  

This is what the refugees come from Turkey to Greece in.

 

Day 3 – Roma

Day 3
1130: buy a ticket for the pink bus. Double decker to go around to the sites. Not feeling too jet lagged, so this is a good thing. 

Worried about recent changes to the Syrian refugee crisis and find myself in nearly constant prayer about it. Where will this journey take me? Where will it take the refugees? Are we, as a world community, drifting further and further from humanity?

So, after writing this I end up getting off bus at the Colosseum and then Vatican City. I wasn’t going to get off at Vatican City, but I did. 

After walking through St. Peter’s Basilica I walked towards the nativity scene and stopped to read a poster that said (I can’t upload pics for some reason): Edited: it finally let me!!

“The Concept: There is no symbol more powerful and universally recognized than the Nativity: just a few weeks after the Extraordinary Synod on the family, The Holy family of Nazareth reminds us that mankind is also and above all is represented by those who struggle to keep ip in a world too oriented in the individual and two little towards others. When looking at a nativity scene, how can one avoid thinking about The terrible tragedy of immigration, while just over a century ago it was the people of Italy and other European countries Who were immigrating in search of A job and a future.” 

I started crying. Openly. In the middle of the square, where thousands stand to hear the pope give mass. I then spent about 10 minutes reflecting on what the nativity and immigration mean to me. My family immigrated from Italy to the US about 100 years ago. 

I stood back to take a pano (that I’m not able to post) and I noticed the priest standing at the far right of the photo. I asked him what he was thinking. And he told me he was thinking about all the pilgrims that came before him to this spot and the rich history. He asked me why I had been crying and I told him about the poster by the nativity and that I was enroute to Greece to help the refugees and how my heart breaks from the fear and hatred of immigrants of all sorts in my country. He took my hands and prayed. For me, for the refugees and for peace in our world. Of course I cried some more.

I’m glad I got off the bus. 

I then had gelato, my friend Dottie says it makes everything better. And it did. 

Dinner and then an early bed time, as I’m flying to Greece in the morning. 

Ciao!

You may donate to help the refugees here: https://www.youcaring.com/sandra-blankenship-480179

Or PayPal: flamidwyfe1@aol.com

Thank you ❤️ 

The Concept

  

The Nativity

  

The Basilica

   

Heaven

Day 1 – Travel Day

It’s 0518, Saturday January 30, 2016. I’m sitting in the lobby at the Double Tree Orlando waiting for my Uber car. I’m excited to start this adventure to Greece, but a wee bit tired. Flying on a Buddy pass means that I’m also flying stand-by. Fingers crossed for seats today! First journey: Orlando to JFK. 

0654: On stand by flight to JFK on a buddy pass. Got a seat in First Class. This trip is starting out pretty awesome 😊

1130 am, checked in for a 9 hour layover in the Delta Sky Club. Been watching planes fly in and out all day! 

700 pm: boarded in a comfy seat and ready for the take off. 

Ciao!

My response to Cathy

  

My sweet friend Cathy saying goid morning 😊

  

Brekkies in First Class. Took meat off bagel.

  

Snow on ground in NYC

  

Fond memories of my time in Abu Dhabi

 

Off to Greece

 It’s 157 am on Friday morning. I’ve just finished packing all but the few items of clothes I need to throw in the wash in the morning. Early morning. 

Bags full of donations for the refugees.

 
I finished up at my office a little after midnight. I’ve got just a few hours of work left there in the morning. 

Then off to Orlando. Flight in the wee hours of Saturday morning to NY. Then a 10 HR layover at JFK and a flight to Rome. Then Athens, then Lesvos. 

Lesvos is similar to Ellis Island. The refugees come on dinghies from Turkey, just 25 km away. The problem is the journey is dangerous and nearly 400 people have lost their lives. So far. THIS MONTH. 

So off I go, to help where ever help is needed. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers. And if you’d like to support my trip, visit here: 

https://www.youcaring.com/sandra-blankenship-480179

Last photo, I’m fading fast…

I’ll be working with Sisters In Health. This is their awesome logo!

 
Ciao!

Serendipity and Love

Sometimes in life serendipity happens. Serendipity is the occurrence and development of event by chance in a happy or beneficial way. This happened to me this week:)

I am going to Greece and Turkey to work in the refugee camps. I will be leaving on February 14 and will be there for 9 weeks. I will be providing well women and maternity care to women that are just arriving or who have been assigned a camp. I absolutely cannot wait!

As a result of this, I am fundraising to enable me to afford transportation, ground transportation, accommodation, supplies and shipping costs. I put together an email and decided to send it out to everyone in my AOL address book. I got a message back from C, asking how she knew me. I was able to cross reference her email in my mail folders and realized that we were both included in an email from someone very special in both of our lives. And thus we began a conversation as to what my purpose was for this trip and a little walk down memory lane. C has generously helped me put together a message to share with others and is going to send it out to her friends and family and share it on Facebook.

Two people with common threads, working together to help refugees in a far away land. This kind of connection is what living is all about! To add to the chance happy part, myself and 2 friends have planned a girls weekend for the one and only weekend I will be in town the first 7 months of this upcoming year. A reunion long overdue.

Here is part of the letter:

Dear Good People,

My name is Sandi Blankenship. I am a mom to 3, a grandma to 10, and a midwife. I became a midwife in 1998 to serve women of all socio-economic backgrounds and provide equal, loving and compassionate care to all.

I have extensive experience in providing midwifery and health care services to women internationally. (I have included a brief description of my work at the end of this letter.) The plight of the refugee women in the current great migration to Europe is profoundly distressing to me.

And so I am traveling to Greece (5 weeks) and Turkey (4 weeks) from February 14 to April 20 of this year, and will be going with an organization called Sisters in Health. My goals are three: to give well-woman care, and maternity care to the women that are arriving and are temporarily camped in Lesbos, Greece; to travel to Turkey to work at the large refugee camp in Suruc, where I will provide women’s health care as well; and lastly, I want to bring with me 500 women’s comfort/hygiene kits to take with me and have the money to purchase more products while there. Listed below are the items that I am planning to take with me. (you can find these on my youcaring web page).

I am additionally responsible for all of my other expenses: air, ground transport, accommodation and excess baggage fees.

I am just one person, but one person, with an army of supporters, can do BIG things.  Every little bit will help. Even a $5 donation would help. Please help me make this trip the best that it can be!

And please feel free to share this opportunity with your family, friends, Facebook, and any other source you might have.

I am drawn to give my time and services and heart energy to these refugees. They are ordinary people, like you and me, in extraordinary circumstances. Thank you for considering supporting these brave women.

Blessings,

Sandi Blankenship, RM, CPM

https://www.youcaring.com/sandra-blankenship-480179

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