Posts tagged " syria "

On the Irony of a Life Jacket

May 9th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

In the midst of a room I sit, surrounded by clothes I’ve been trying to arrange for over ten days. It’s that time of year when we Greeks “take down” our summer clothes, sort through our winter wardrobe, give stuff away, store the rest in suitcases in some closet “up high.” Amongst all my accumulated crap, endless stretched-out T-shirts made by underage kids in Turkey, that cost $5 and pollute the environment, is a bagful of my son’s stuff from last summer, that as usual, I was sure would fit him this year.

Including a life jacket.

I pack it all into a big garbage bag, thinking of where I should donate it all to this time, for there are so many options. But I hold on to the life jacket. For days, it lays on the floor. I step over it, he tries to squeeze into it, I move it to the corner of the room, back to the center again, position it on the armchair in the corner; it sits there, empty.

A boat capsizes outside the coast of Italy, or is it Malta, neither country can decide whose responsibility it is, by the time they do, the sea swallows 250 people. Sixty of them kids. Some of them, wounded kids. But that doesn’t matter anymore, they’re dead. I wonder if any of them could have used my son’s life jacket. If it would have kept them alive long enough for the authorities to decide who was going to go save them. After distress call, upon distress call, over five hours. I imagine what the story would be if the boat was full of rich tourists sailing the Mediterranean, and not Syrian refugees.

Nobody cares anymore. It’s easier to let them die than to take them in. I get it. Our sense of humanity is capsizing. Hold on to your life jacket, if you have one. I sure as hell will.

On Those of Us More Fortunate

December 1st, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet


December has rolled in, and in less than 25 days, most of us will be sitting around a warm fireplace stroking our full turkey bellies. While over 1,500 children without parents or guardians are roaming Greece trying to find somewhere to sleep, to keep warm, to get food. They are alone. And in the month of December, Greece is not exactly the land of sea and sunshine. It rains, it snows, temperatures fall to below zero.

I know that the international refugee crisis is a controversial subject for all. Most of us believe that it’s not our problem, that we’re not responsible and that we have our own problems to take care of at home.

For those of you more fortunate, who believe that we can all help, regardless of where we are from, regardless of Hillary losing, Trump winning, regardless of how many donations you’ve recently made to Planned Parenthood or to a GOP cause, maybe you can find that soft spot inside yourself this holiday season, and address an issue that is well beyond all of our borders, an issue that unifies humanity in grief. There is a future generation of human beings out there, they need your help, they are part of our future, and you get to decide what that future will be.

You can help by contacting the woman in the post below, Sofia Kouvelaki, who has been doing amazing work for this cause with Giving for Greece. Or simply donate on their website,


On the Incredible

August 6th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

There’s a story on the news today, about an 18-year-old Syrian girl, a swimmer, who is competing in the Rio Olympics on the refugee team. A rough year ago, she and her sister jumped off a broken dinghy on its way from Turkey to Lesvos and swam for three-and-a-half hours in the choppy, cold Aegean waters, guiding it to shore, saving the lives of 20 people.

Two things in this story strike me to unexplainable joyous tears: there is a refugee team in the Olympics, comprised of displaced people from warzones of the Middle East. It’s the first thing that’s made me smile since this tragedy, that has hit so close to my home, began.

And a girl who has had her home destroyed by a bomb, survived, in fact, her whole family survived, made it to Germany, and within a tiny span of a year, is swimming for this incredible, pioneering team. They should all get medals, though all they are hoping for is a personal best. All the gold in the world belongs to them.

When I was a kid, there was this terrible, cheesy 80s show on TV. Those in my age group will remember, it was called “That’s Incredible.” Nothing half this incredible happened back then. Nothing this human. Though our definition of “incredible” today, defies the word of yesterday.

Pieces: a novel

“Pieces” is the winner of the silver medal at the 2017 Independent Publishers Awards (IPPY), and a finalist at the USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards.

When Clouds Embrace: a children's book

All proceeds from the sales of "When Clouds Embrace" will go to Giving for Greece, a foundation that works to help the hundreds of unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece.