When Spanish lifeguard Oscar Camps traveled to the Greek Island of Lesbos to help rescue migrants from drowning in September 2015, he was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the crisis—hundreds of men, women and children desperately throwing themselves onto barely seaworthy boats to escape from Turkey to Greece.
“When we got to Lesbos we realized that no one was there,” Camps told NBC Latino, “there were no volunteer organizations or governmental institutions, and people were drowning. So we had to start working fast. And on our first day, we rescued people with almost no gear—swim fins and a neoprene wetsuit.”
Since then, two islands in the Mediterranean—Lesbos in Greece and Lampedusa in Italy—have become battlefronts in a much wider political war about border security and immigration. Camps used his life savings to found the nonprofit Proactiva Open Arms, an organization that helped over 140,000 migrants reach land safely. It has also rescued another 20,000 caught adrift, trapped on coastal cliffs and in direct danger of drowning.
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