Vancouver woman returning to Lesbos to help refugees

For the second time in less than three months, Rory Richards is packing supplies and heading to the Greek Island of Lesbos to help refugees.

“Why not?” the Vancouver publicist said, when asked why she was going. “Because we can, because they need, because it’s the right thing to do.”

Last November, so moved by the images of migrants fleeing their war-torn homes, Richards went to Greece – not with an organization, but on her own – and rented a van.

“I wasn’t there for more than an hour before my van was filled with refugees and I was told to drive up a hill and drop them off at a camp,” she said.

BLOG: First-hand account of the refugee crisis from Lesbos, Greece

“There’s no welcome to the crisis 101, there’s no volunteer training, you’re just thrown in and you do whatever you can do in that moment.”

For Richards, that meant setting up a night camp on shore while boatloads of tired and frightened migrants kept coming.

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“That was the seventh or eighth of tenth…boat that night, and we had to leave and go to the next boat a kilometer away that was sinking off the coast,” she said.

“So, I don’t know his story, but it’s one of many, many stories.”

What she saw prompted her to launch a fundraising campaign that has so far raised $39,000. Richards says the money is being used to pay for supplies – blankets, socks and everything needed to comfort boat-weary migrants.

Her hope is that others at home will be inspired to help in any way they can.

“There’s so many things to do, it’s a massive crisis,” she said.