LESVOS, GREECE (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Syrian refugee crisis may be happening oceans away from Hawaii, but two Oahu men are bringing their compassion to Greece by helping hundreds of refugees struggling to get to shore.
Josh Moroles, of Kaneohe, and Matt Chamberlain, of Kaimuki, are volunteers with the International Surf Lifesaving Association, an organization that aims to prevent drownings and promote water safety around the globe. As part of rescue efforts, the duo was recently assigned to Lesvos, an island in Greece.
They've only been in Greece for a few days, but just on the first day, they already rescued 200 Syrians from a wooden boat.
"I have trained for years for this but this was the first time doing anything like this," Moroles said in an email to Hawaii News Now. "The protocol is to take children first, and seeing the young children being taken from their moms' hands and handed to us is crazy. It really hits hard because I have a 15-month-old named Kainoa, and I couldn't imagine."
Moroles said they had to carry wounded refugees to shore, and one woman had even gone through knee surgery, so they had to carry her over their heads.
Nearly 380,000 refugees arrived in Lesvos in 2015, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and they are continuing to flood in at a rate of 3,300 per day.