Bethells Beach lifeguards going to refugees' rescue need some help of their own

By Jordan Bond

A team led by Adi Jenkins will work alongside rescue teams from Greece for three weeks. Photo / File
A team led by Adi Jenkins will work alongside rescue teams from Greece for three weeks. Photo / File

A group of Auckland lifeguards will travel to Greece next Friday to help with the refugee crisis, but the team is facing some troubles of their own - financing the trip.

The group of six from Bethells Beach Surf Life Saving club put their hands up to travel to the Greek island of Lesbos, where tens of thousands of migrants have arrived by boat from Turkey to seek refugee status.

Rough weather and overcrowded boats have led to the deaths of hundreds of people attempting to get to Lesbos, with the island the scene of dramatic rescue missions as volunteers and lifeguards scramble to cope.

The lifeguards - Dave Comp, 54, Adi Jenkins, 52, James Kendrick, 20, Ben Challis, 47, Sofia Atheneou, 39, and Mason Dray-Hogg, 34 - leave on April 22, and will work alongside local rescue teams for three weeks.

The team replicated a mass rescue scenario in Auckland in preparation for the conditions, which team leader Adi Jenkins said are "like chalk and cheese" compared with New Zealand.

Dozens of volunteers packed into a small vessel and mimicked attempts to reach the beach safely at Okahu Bay. This gave the team valuable practice time with the rescue bridge - an inflatable, robust platform they will be taking over to assist rescue efforts. They are also airfreighting an inflatable rescue boat which will remain in Greece when they return.

However, while the team is committed to helping those half a world away, they're in need of some help of their own.

They anticipate flights, freight, accomodation and insurance will cost between $60,000 and $70,000. And while team member Dave Comp said they're thankful for the financial support they've already received, the team has raised just over $11,000.

"We are very appreciative of everyone's generosity in order for us to carry out this humanitarian project," Mr Comp said.

The team needs at least $30,000 for essential equipment, travel and insurance, and has a Givealittle donation page for any public donations - https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/project-lifeguard-hellas

- NZ Herald

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