My name is Andrew Frania
I am a volunteer working with the refugee crisis in Lesvos, Greece.
29 years ago I was an orphan in S. Korea but was fortunate enough to be adopted. Not only to be adopted but was given the opportunity to become an American citizen, which would not have happened had not two white Americans (my parents) participated in my vetting process.
I received a traditional education and went on to college. I've attended religious college, technical college, and am now currently a student at UW Oshkosh. My current studies in International Studies and in languages helped with my awareness as my position as a global citizen and international current affairs.
I joined the Marine Corps and served in the Infantry. I deployed to Iraq where I both lived and trained with the Iraqi Police and Provisional Forces. There I was able to understand the people at a more personal level. Our mission in Iraq was “Winning the Hearts and Minds.” We integrated ourselves as much as we could into the local communtiys: working in small teams so as not to appear as much as a “terrifying large group,” meeting weekly with the sheiks(village leaders) and the imams (religious leaders) to access needs and worries, weekly food and supply drops to each village, eating with the people, living with the people. We wanted to show them that we weren't at war against all of Iraq, that they had options besides collaborating with Al-Queda. We were trying to reset up the infrastructure that we had destroyed.
I participated in a mission in 2010 called LF Carat (Landing Force Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training). This was a multi-branch and multi-nation mission. We worked directly with S.E. Asian countries that were stuggling with Al-Queda and radicals on their islands and jungles. There we trained with and were trained by the military of each host nation. Our mission was to show the nation's that the United States was not at war against Islam and we were set on establishing new nation-to-nation relations or strengthening current relations. This mission allowed me to see both the world and that people outside of the US may have different views, but in the end of the day, we were all humans
I am currently working on the island of Lesvoa, Greece. It is the 4th largest island in the Mediteranean. Turkey is only 4-20km away from Lesvos, and most refugees from the African nations, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria etc. All funnel through Turkey. Last year 1 million+ refugees came into Greece, of which 800k came through Lesvos. This island is registration into the EU.
Here we welcome refugees when they come ashore. We give them clothes since they only have what they're wearing and 99% of the time they are wet and it's winter here. We cook food, we entertain the children, build tents and shelters. We also have our duty to ensure the cleanliness of the island since the locals are welcoming both refugees and volunteers and we must be mindful of the environment/eco-system of our host island. For the most part I patrol the islands north coast with binoculars for the day, night visions scopes and thermal scopes at night. This is to ensure that the boats are spotted and the coast guard is alerted so that we can get the people to safety as soon as possible.
Gently used clothing is needed, but it takes time for shipments to arrive here. Though sending cute baby clothes is nice, there is a surplus here; we have a serious lack of shoes and clothing that actually serves a purpose of warmth. Donations help the most since we can immediately allocate it to immediate needs. This also allows us to give back to our host island by stimulating their local economy. Any donations of any type are more than welcome.