Photo Essay: “An Island of Washed-Up Dreams” by Cindy Cuellar

A toddler-sized lifejacket, still inflated, lies on the beach of Thermi, Lesvos.

Chloe Haralambous is a coordinator and cofounder of Mosaik support center for refugees since 2016. She was determined to help with the “so called refugee crisis, ” Haralambous says. “We need to change our thinking on how we are going to live in solidarity with the refugees and migrants, not simply giving them the tools for survival, but for some kind of meaningful existence in this place of limbo.”

Kostas Korozis is a teacher at the Mosaik Center who teaches Greek to refugees in Lesvos.

A woman who wishes to keep her anonymity lives in the Moria Camp and proudly shows her progression of studying English. Two women speak about how horrible it is to live in Moria, especially as a female. The women say they are fearful of being alone at night, especially of the young men who drink alcohol.

Stand By Me is a resource that is only funded through donations and run by volunteers in support of refugees to learn English and other skills. Mixalis Aivaliotis, pictured, is the founder of the school that started from nothing. The school is still under construction as volunteers from different organizations build playgrounds for the kids and cubicles for the teachers and students.

At the Lesvos Stand By Me school for women, children and men, the women listen attentively to the review being taught in preparation for their final exam in three days. Three volunteers temporarily become the substitute teacher as the current teacher, Habib, was absent.

Maryam helps at the Stand By Me school by making clothes for others. She proudly displays the most recent dress she created by using a sewing machine.

Yelda, a three year old girl who lives in the Kara Tepe refugee camp made silly faces the second she saw the camera. She typically runs around by herself but stopped and introduced her mother and brother who also live in the camp with her.

A single pose was not an option for Yelda as she knew to change her expression to another by the sound of the shutter closing from the camera.

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