Log entry

Logbook #43. Three Europeans are saving lives in the Mediterranean

Brigitte, Christina and Claude. A French, a German, a Spaniard. One is in her thirties, the other two in their fifties. Three women, who embody the diversity and the team spirit of our rescue crew of 10.

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Brigitte, member of the SAR-team, reading on deck of the AQUARIUS

It is Brigitte’s first rotation. The AQUARIUS still holds a couple of surprises for her, whilst she is well acquainted with the sea. Brigitte feels a deep connection to water. Her zodiac sign is the Aquarius, she is from a family of seamen and a passionate sailor. Almost as a side note, she tells us how she became a captain. Next to working at sea, she is also well acquainted with humanitarian work. She has always had a special interest in the African continent. The first time she heard about SOS MEDITERRANEE was at a music festival. Right away she knew that she wanted to be part of it. Now she has found her place aboard the AQUARIUS.

It is already Christina’s fifth time aboard the AQUARIUS, which makes her one of the “veterans” of the search and rescue crew. First and foremost she considers herself a migrant. Her grandparents migrated to Germany from Eastern Europe. Her father, who is from a village that nowadays belongs to the Ukraine, was born in a refugee camp. 9 November 1989, the day of the fall of the Berlin Wall turned her life upside down. For her there will always be a “before” and an “after.” Following some difficult years, she decides to emigrate to Italy. For 25 years, her research and her work as a documentary filmmaker has focused on her family’s history, the human as well as political aspects thereof. In February 2016 she met a few people from SOS MEDITERRANEE on Lampedusa. She offers her help then it all went very quickly. She is made part of the rescue crew and is faced with a challenge. Even though she has dreamt of going to sea for a long time, she has no specific experience in search and rescue operations. During her first operation she took a backseat and had some difficulty in finding her place. The rest of the team were all young men that didn’t necessarily leave her the space that she needed. Since then things have fundamentally changed. Now Christina is the one that welcomes the “guests” aboard the AQUARIUS.

Claudia, member of the SAR-Team, practising knots on the Aquarius
Claudia, member of the SAR-Team, practising knots on the Aquarius

Claudia on the other hand, is new aboard the AQUARIUS, but had been part of several rescue missions at sea before. Since her youth, the lawyer has had an avid interest in humanitarian support. Following her law degree and an internship with the European Commission she worked as a corporate lawyer specialised in competition law. One day she decides to give it all up. The photos of refugees leave an impression on the young Spaniard, she feels helpless, wants to do something. First she goes to Lesbos to work in a refugee camp. There she comes across the NGO ProActivia Open Arms and completes a course in sea rescue. Following a mission in the central Mediterranean aboard the Astral – the rescue vessel run by ProActivia – she decides to join SOS MEDITERRANEE.

Three women, two mothers and a future grandmother. Three lives. Every one of them found her place. They all hold their own personal convictions. They don’t believe that they will change the world from one day to the other, but they want to do something to help. The three women are determined to do their part, so that the right to life and physical safety applies to all.

 

Original text: Marie Rajablat
Translation: Lea Main- Klingst
Photos: Susanne Friedel