The courage to pull down our mental borders

Written by Regina Catrambone, MOAS Co-founder

Global migration has become the defining issue of our century. Whether they are fleeing conflict or economic deprivation, desperate people will continue trying to cross borders in search of a decent life.

IOM estimates that about 30,000 people have died in the past 15 years, trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of a new life. 30,000. Although, no one knows exactly how many have died.

We have become almost de-sensitised to the images of unsafe boats packed with human beings attempting the dangerous sea crossing. We have become almost used to the loss of life. People dying at sea at Europe’s doorstep have become nothing more than statistics.


Thousands of vulnerable children, women and men every day feel they have no choice but to put their lives in the hands of smugglers because they don’t see any other way to seek safety.

How can’t we feel empathy with them? This is a pressing question I keep asking myself. The answer lies in our inability to overcome our fears.

At a time of razor-wire fences, terrorism and insecurity, we need to find the courage to transcend our mental borders.

Only when we are brave enough to overcome our fears and open our hearts, will we be able to feel empathy with other people. And empathy has no nationality, no religion, no gender.

Empathy takes us to a place without borders; because it opens a window to the universal human experience.

It is pointless building walls, including imaginary ones at sea. People will merely seek out more dangerous routes. This has been proven time and time again.

Conflict, oppression and hunger can happen to anyone of us, anytime. We will get a better understanding the day we realise that such suffering is not exclusive to any nation.

Pulling down the borders is precisely what happened to my husband Christopher and me in the summer of 2013 when we decided to found MOAS.

Ever since, MOAS has been a very inspirational experience for all our team. Each passing day, it teaches us that giving people hope makes us happier. By helping others, we help ourselves.

Every day, hundreds of people will keep attempting the dangerous sea journey. Many will die.

But as a global community we can stop this. MOAS will continue to work hard to keep the flame of hope alive for all those desperate enough to risk their lives at sea.

But we can’t do this alone. No one citizen or organisation will be able to make this change alone. Only together can we overcome the barriers we face and ensure that those vulnerable enough to escape for their lives, no longer have to die in such desperation.