Eight wheelchair access ramps where placed on Corfu Island’s beaches this summer so that everyone can enjoy the pleasure of the sea.
This was done not by a government body, or a European funded programme nor was it a private business enterprise either.
During a time of critical change in Greece a small group of volunteers proved beyond any doubt that All Together We Can.
Their commitment and perseverance found solutions, inspired many others both young and old and created a wave of enthusiasm that offered hope for the future in a time of collective fear and unease.
By pouring their heart and soul into these eight ‘embraces’ as they endearly call the access ramps, as well as sheer hard work, they provided a long awaited for solution to no less than 10% of the population of Corfu in under two months.
To an island with a coastline of 219km the lack of access to water for people with mobility restrictions who can measure up to 30% of the population, has felt like a long sentence to serve.
This particular side of the story is about a boy called Michail. We would not be writing this and you would not be reading this if it wasn’t for him and for this we are grateful.
Michail was born on Corfu Island round about thirteen years ago.
Like every other human being Michail has a gift. Unlike most of us, however, he uses a wheelchair all of the time and will do so for life.
He has little mobility in his arms and legs and it is for this reason that his older brother and parents chose to move to another country so that Michail could be better supported at school and have more chances of a socially included life style.
Despite his thriving in this new environment which leaves no doubt the right choice was made; there is one thing this adopted country cannot offer Michail.
There is no sea.
Despite his physical mobility restrictions Michail can easily spend 4 to 5 hours independently floating, bopping, diving in the sea on a daily basis.
The sea offers a sense of freedom, a weightlessness and a playful pleasure that is obviously a source of great joy for him.
The salt, the fresh air, the physical movement in water are a natural source of healing that seem to surpass the outcome of any specialised physiotherapy he gets on land during the rest of the year.
And so he flies back to Corfu to be with his grandparents for two whole months during the summer in order to make the most of his love and enthusiasm for blue salty water.
Over and beyond the sense of wonder one feels when witnessing Michail’s pleasure when swimming there is also Michail’s own particular gift that comes into play.
His love is able to embrace many, many, many more than your average human being.
His love is magnetic and even addictive as it flows openly and indiscriminately to all that he meets.
The strength in a love like that is that it has the power to generate huge amounts of energy, to bring people together and to make miracles happen.
An apple falls not far from the family tree and so it is that Michail’s grandfather was one of the unfaltering volunteers in this summer’s volunteer group.
When asked what inspired him to keep going his answer is always the same “it is only a small token of the love I receive from my grandson, his love seems like it is unlimited”.
Love generates even more love and so it was with the holiday makers, the local shop owners and the many children that turned up on Corfu’s beaches this summer to offer a helping hand.
This summer Corfu set a high flying example of what togetherness can feel like and what it is capable of achieving.
We ask that these ramps are protected and taken care of for they are the product of great love.
All together we certainly can!
(This post is from the blog of www.corfuon.com)