From Scotland to Kos with love

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Buying a one-way ticket to the idyllic Greek island of Kos turned out to be a life-changing decision for a young Glenrothes woman.

Responding to the global humanitarian crisis unfolding on the shores of Kos, Mhairi Smith planned to fly out and lend a hand with local organisation ‘Kos Solidarity’ for a week.

A Greek volunteer carries a baby girl in her arms after helping her out of an inflatable boat her family used along with other refugees and migrants to cross the Aegean sea from Turkey. Picture by  UNHCR/Achilleas Zavallis

A Greek volunteer carries a baby girl in her arms after helping her out of an inflatable boat her family used along with other refugees and migrants to cross the Aegean sea from Turkey. Picture by UNHCR/Achilleas Zavallis

Unable to sustain herself without an income any longer, the 25-year-old was forced to return to Scotland.

“Once you’ve had your eyes opened to the sad realities of this world on a human level, it is hard to close them and turn your back,” Mhairi wrote on her blog From Scotland With Love.

“It struck me that for someone like myself, a holder of a British Passport, the journey from Bodrum to Kos would cost me around 12 Euros for a 40-minute sunny day ferry trip. Safe, cheap, secure. For a refugee travelling from Bodrum to Kos, the cost for a place on a blow-up dingy or broken-down boat can cost anything from 900 to 3000 Euros.

“The Aegean Sea used to be tourist dream, glistening and pure. It is now the graveyard of the desperate, with over 50 lives taken in just the last five days (October 25), mostly children.”

Volunteers carry a woman out of an inflatable after she reached the shores of Lesbos. Picture by  UNHCR/Achilleas Zavallis

Volunteers carry a woman out of an inflatable after she reached the shores of Lesbos. Picture by UNHCR/Achilleas Zavallis

Speaking to the Gazette on her return, Mhairi explained the fears of the volunteers: “They are everyday Greek people with jobs and families, trying to fill in the gaps. I know for a fact that, on Kos, every meal is paid for and distributed by volunteers.

“The main worry is that when another big news story hits, and the refugee crisis disappears from the news agenda, people’s generosity will run out.”

With winter already nipping at the heels of Europe, the major concern is warmth and shelter in the coming months. “It’s important that people keep talking about it, especially as winter is coming and the situation is getting worse.”

Mhairi will return to the island in January and is holding a charity gig on November 21 in the Greenside Hotel to raise money. A top line-up of local bands will keep you entertained from 7.30pm to late and entry is just £5.