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Local Man To Help In Refugee Crisis

Local Man Gary Heslin To Help In Refugee Crisis

Writes Jack White

Crosshaven RNLI volunteer Gary Heslin has flown out to the Greek Island of Lesbos to commence a month of volunteering aboard the Refugee Rescue boat ‘Mo Chara’.

Refugee Rescue is a skilled Search and Rescue (SAR), humanitarian and non-political NGO founded in 2015. Their volunteer boat and land crew as well as rescue vessel ‘Mo Chara’ (‘My Friend’ in Irish) are currently based in Lesbos, Greece, where they have helped thousands of refugees fleeing violence, war and persecution.

Now retired following a career of almost 30 years with Cork City Fire Service and a volunteer career with Crosshaven RNLI of seventeen years, Gary has the medical and rescue skillset and experience to help with Refugee Rescue.

“Now that I’m retired, I’m lucky enough to have the time to go and volunteer with Refugee Rescue for a month”, says Gary, “I saw a documentary about them on BBC Last year and with my experience as a fire fighter and an RNLI volunteer I hope I can be of some help on the boat”, he said.

Providing a 24/7 volunteer service,  Refugee Rescue say “Our mission is to remain active 24/7 to protect everybody fleeing war, violence and persecution and prevent more deaths at sea. By being human showing compassion, we remain on Lesbos to assist people at sea and land.”

“The refugees fleeing from their own war torn countries such as Syria are desperate to find safety, they’re ordinary people just like you or me who have found themselves in a desperate situation” says Gary.

It’s not only on the sea that Refugee Rescue volunteers can help out, Since April 2017 Refugee Rescue started to form a land crew to help cover the north coast of Lesbos. The north shore is 9 kilometres away from the Turkish cost and it is a main point of crossing for refugees in the Aegean sea. Spotting is a crucial activity since it permits the SAR (Search and Rescue) crews to find the coming refugee boats in a quicker and more efficient way. Not losing boats in distress out of sight is key to ensure that all people on board will reach land safely.

Gary encourages everyone to check out the Refugee Rescue website: to find out more about the charity and to sign up or donate if they so wish.

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