Susan Sarandon’s Christmas this year was a little less conventional. Instead of staying at home and watching Love Actually for the billionth time and wrapping gifts, the inspirational actress spent a week on the Greek island of Lesbos. There she met Syrian refugees and was given some invaluable on-the-ground insight into the migrant crisis. Sarandon told PEOPLE magazine that she “came here to listen and learn from their stories”.
Sarandon met a dozen refugees who have all fled war-stricken Syria and are in desperate need of aid and shelter, but those who truly left their mark on her were the mothers and their children. Seeing other women bravely fight and travel dangerous distances for the sake of their children struck a chord with the actress. “It breaks my heart as a mother to see other mothers struggling, against all odds, to keep their kids clean, healthy, and safe in the midst of unbelievable violence,” she told People magazine. “They all want a future for their children that includes an education. They are my heroes”.
Sarandon hopes that her trip to Greece will bring some much needed attention to the crisis. “[The international community] must realize the size of the problem and understand it, these people should stop being ‘somebody else’ and must become the refugees that we must stand by”. Sarandon travelled with RYOT, a virtual reality news company, to shed light on the crisis and work with organisations bringing aid to those in need.