Posted by Wes Baumann
Twenty-four members were in attendance at our weekly meeting.  There were no guests or visiting Rotarians, other than our speaker.
 
Tony Kambich celebrated his 45th year in Rotary - 38 of those years in Winnetka-Northfield.  Patti Van Cleave announced our club would be making a special effort to raise funds for Hurricane Harvey relief.  Donations can be made to our Foundation, which will determine the best agencies to support.
 
Happy Buck$ this week came from Ned Meisner for his safe motorcycle trip through the Smokey Mountains, Keith Reed for his sister’s surviving the hurricane in Houston and Wes Baumann for his combined 109 years of life and Rotary membership.
 
David Birkenstein introduced our speaker, Paul Keenon who was relating his experience at a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos.  Paul is the father of 12 children (8 of them adopted) and grandfather to 29 children.  Paul is a past District Governor.  He and his wife have served as foster parents for approximately 400 children in their lives of service.
 
Today Paul spoke about his two-week journey with his church group to the Greek island of Lesvos and the refugee camp where he volunteered.  They were not allowed to bring in any cameras or any religious materials; however, once in, they were allowed to discuss religion and almost any other topic.  He reported that many of the refugees liked to talk about their religion, no matter what religion they professed.  He asked his audience if we knew who were the first refugees – answer:  Adam and Eve as they were forced out of the Garden of Eden which is located in that part of the world.  War and persecution are the only legitimate reasons for people to be granted refugee status.  One-half of all refugees have gone through Lesvos.  He said at the height of the problem 100,000 persons landed on the shores of Lesvos per month at the height of the exodus.  He said the camps were clean and people were given clean clothes.  As a volunteer he helped to distribute food, clothing and blankets.
 
With all that the refugees have experienced, good people sometimes snap and get violent.  Some refugees have thrown out all identification documents for fear of being rejected, but that only makes matters worse for them.  Paul indicated that for the safety of the receiving countries there needs to be some serious vetting to prevent the wrong people from getting in.
 
Some of the refugees are allowed to leave the camp during the day and they mill about the towns; this has had disastrous effects on tourism, which is the main industry of many of the Greek isles.  Many of the European borders are closing fast and the UN has given Greece $65 million to ‘work things out.’
 
Some of the statistics he cited included:
   - Currently there are 244 million persons displaced outside of their country of origin
   - 6000 seeking refugee status drowned in 2016
   - 60,000 have been known to drown since the current migration began
   - 2/3 of the Syrian population is displaced in or out of their country
At Camp Moria (where Paul worked)
   - 50% are Africans
   - 50% of all refugees to Europe have gone through Camp Moria
   - Christians outnumber all other religions, including Muslims
 
Paul Keenon’s life certainly exemplifies the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.”  We were fortunate to hear his first person description of an extremely difficult situation and offer our gratitude to him for his service!
 
 
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