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Desperate and terrified cries ring out in the night. I hear them before I see them, and my eyes scour the coastline to locate the raft where the cries are coming from. It’s 30 degrees on the coast of Lesbos Greece and under the protection of the dark, raft after raft of infants, children, elderly and adults wash ashore. Roughly 1,800 refugees arrive nightly—Syrians who have traveled through Turkey escaping certain death in their homeland.
As Teela Ruehle, associate dean of University Towers, recounts this story to me I sit enraptured, overwhelmed with the picture she paints of the desperation and hope of a people running for their lives. Teela recounts that after seeing the deep need of these people, she canceled her Christmas vacation plans, bought a ticket to Greece and spent two weeks helping independent humanitarian groups care for displaced refugees on this portion of their journey.
Nightly, she would walk miles of the coastline watching for rafts and helping people to safety. One night she could see the intermittent light of a raft from afar and tracked it for hours while aiding other refugees to shore. Finally the raft washed ashore empty. She stood speechless at the site, honoring the lives of those refugees lost at sea.
Teela, thank you for letting your story be part of the Andrews Story, for showing us an example of compassion, empathy and care for humankind. You and your story are part of the spirit of Andrews.
Read more of Teela’s story by visiting Stories of Andrews at andrews.edu/stories.
Also, consider attending the conference on “Mission in an Era of Migrants and Refugees” here at Andrews University, Sept. 13-16. For information, visit nadei.org.
Ruehle, Teela Shawn, "Teela Ruehle" (2017). Summer 2017. 2.