In ‘No Borders,’ local woman tells of hope, hopelessness in refugee camps | VailDaily.com

In ‘No Borders,’ local woman tells of hope, hopelessness in refugee camps

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EDWARDS — How awful must your life be if you're willing to load your family and loved ones into an overcrowded raft, paddle across miles of open ocean and spend every dime to your name to do it?

A local woman, Morgan Wyrick, ran the Athena Center, a women's center in a refugee camp on the Greek Island of Chios. Most of the refugees are Syrian, fleeing many attempts to kill them from all sides.

"A refugee camp is the entire human condition packed into 1 square mile. Thousands of people, human trafficking, drug trafficking, violence … and yet some of the most amazing acts of human compassion and heroism you can imagine," Wyrick said.

The refugees fled Syria, paid smugglers to sneak them across Turkey, then paid more smugglers to pack them into rafts and send them paddling toward the nearest Greek island, 12 miles away across the Strait of Chios.

'Told to Wait'

Many survive. Some drown or are turned around and forced to return to the place they're escaping.

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Those who do escape face existence in a refugee camp, waiting for some European bureaucrat to hear their case and let them out of the camp and into the rest of the world.

"Usually, though, they're told to wait. They're rarely told how long or for what, just that they have to wait," Wyrick said.

She said that generally, the refugees are professionals — architects, engineers, doctors and other professionals. They have to have that kind of earning power to have the money to pay smugglers and escape.

When they're finally processed out of the refugee camps, they're relocated in Greece or other parts of Europe, where they try to rebuild their lives, Wyrick said.

If You Go …

What: Life For Women in a Refugee Camp.

When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28.

Where: Colorado Mountain College.

Cost: Free.

More information: Valley native Morgan Wyrick ran The Athena Center, a women’s center in a refugee camp for people fleeing the Middle East massacres and wars. This is the first Women in Philanthropy, Colorado Mountain College Fireside Chats of the semester.

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