Susan Sarandon spent the Christmas holiday on the Greek island of Lesbos assisting international organizations with the mounting Syrian refugee crisis — a crisis, she says, that recalls the travails of Joseph and Mary on their way to the Inn in Bethlehem.
In a column for the Huffington Post and RYOT, the 69-year-old Oscar-winning actress described meeting a 16-year-old girl who had apparently given birth shortly before arriving on the island.
“I smile and approach her, but without a translator, our conversation is basic-friendly,” Sarandon wrote of her experience. “She takes the bundle next to her and opens it to me. Inside is a perfect, rosy, newborn.”
The actress continues:
She is beaming, so proud. How did this young girl, just having given birth, manage that trip at sea? How did she do all that walking? Where did she give birth?
Wasn’t Mary just a kid too when she and Joseph took to the road? So far, there is no manger for this Syrian baby, no room at the inn.
Sarandon’s short column is part of a new collaborative series with the Huffington Post and the “virtual reality” network RYOT called The Crossing, which will see the actress host a series of reports “chronicling the refugee crisis as it unfolds in Greece.”
Sarandon detailed her week-long trip to the Greek island in an interview with the Guardian this week. She told the paper that she packed granola bars, emergency blankets, socks, and hand warmers to distribute to the refugees and reportedly assisted at least four different international organizations working on the island.
“I wanted to learn from the refugees, take their stories and somehow put them on the Internet,” Sarandon told the Guardian. “My main goal was to humanize the issue and have them be real people, not politicize it.”
The actress also criticized the political discourse surrounding the refugee crisis in the United States: “It seemed like people who had the loudest voices were the most xenophobic and un-American,” she said.
Sarandon isn’t the only actor to have visited the Greek island to assist international aid efforts for refugees; Homeland star Mandy Patinkin recently spent time there assisting the International Rescue Committee after wrapping production on the fifth season of the hit Showtime drama.