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A Good Samaritan up to his neck in water

MELBOURNE  (Agencies): Simon Lewis, the 32-year-old captain of the St. Kilda Surf Lifesaving Club at a popular beach in inner Melbourne, Australia, returned home on January 25 after spending 10 days as a Good Samaritan up to his neck in water helping refugees in the treacherous crossing between Turkey and the Greek islands, a well-worn route for people fleeing Syria.

SBS reported that he was inspired after being confronted with images of children who had drowned trying to reach Europe.

“On day one, within the first hour of being on the beach, we had a boat of 200 refugees,” he told the government broadcaster. “It was a real baptism of fire.”

Together with his international team Lewis formed a human chain to help the floundering people. “Holding a child, seeing its scared-and-crying face, and passing it on to the Norwegian, the German, the French and other volunteers—it was like the international community just coming together,” he said.

But he also saw the dark side of humanity in the form of unscrupulous people smugglers. People were equipped with poorly-built boats and fake life jackets, often filled with little more than bubble-wrap plastic and straw.

“They make it in-house for about a dollar and they sell it for (Australian) $500 ($3,250),” Lewis explained.

He described a heart wrenching encounter with a mother who tried to throw her baby to him as their vessel approached his dinghy. “We were very close to the boat and we had to pull away and put some distance between us and her and break her heart because we couldn’t accept the baby,” Lewis lamented. However, the boat survived and so did the baby.


“Having had that experience of people saying thank you, just with their eyes, has forever changed me,” Lewis reflected.

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