Week 13 Lifeboat

This powerful documentary captures some of the most difficult moments of migration via the Mediterranean today. What were your thoughts watching this film? How did it speak to discussions or readings we’ve done in this class? Discuss your thoughts/comments of the film’s the reflections on the common humanity and of thinking with the heart.

14 thoughts on “Week 13 Lifeboat

  1. This film showed many aspects of migration that we had talked about in class, but made them more impactful by showing the struggle the migrants actually go through on the ocean, and by also showing the organizations that go out and save migrants in these boats. I think one of the most heartbreaking parts of the film was when the migrants were describing why they were trying to escape to Europe, and a lot of the people said they had been kidnapped and abused before leaving for Europe. That related to the reading we did where girls were kidnapped and their families had to pay ransoms to get them back. Another similarity I noticed from the readings is that the workers destroyed the rubber boats so human traffickers could not use them again. I think the boat captains quote about thinking with your heart resonated a lot with me and probably with the wider audience too. Hopefully this film will change the way some people see migrants and open them up to treating them with kindness and sympathy.

    What are some more ways the media can be used to portray the struggles of the migrant crisis?

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  2. This documentary showed quite of the few hardships for migrants we’ve discussed in class, such as too many people being stuffed into a single boat. How there is no place to use the restroom, there is no motor, or anyway to move the boat other than the currents of the sea. Too actually see this though, and the faces of people, brings it too a bigger reality than just talking about it in class, or reading of it. It was moving to see people go through such hardships, some with children, and some couldn’t even swim, just for the chance at a better life. Even if the chance could easily mean death.
    I think Jon Castle put it well, where the brain is only a tool. Logic isn’t everything. Mr. Castle also went on to explain how, it’s easy to just see these as masses of people, people who don’t belong at that, but when you actually see them up close, they aren’t numbers or words on a page. They are living breathing individuals just like ourselves and they deserve to be treated that way.
    What could we do to humanise the refugees situation more?

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  3. Just the introductory news clips elicited sadness for me. On topics such as these I cannot help but become emotionally driven. The amount of people on just those three boats was heartbreaking. The reality of people collapsing, jumping from the boats, dying, and seeing children was gut wrenching. Witnessing the complications that come with rescuing these people. Such as dealing with language barriers, trying to keep everyone calm, deciding who receives first priority, etc. I could only imagine the toll this would take. But what tops this is the dangers and fears the migrants face, Pregnant women, infections, heatstroke, and so many more. I cannot help but see them as courageous. To escape such terrible conditions only to be faced with an uncertain future. The idea of choosing between the horrors the migrants listed and the dangers of the sea would be unimaginable. It is so easy to understand why these people are risking their lives to cross the sea in the chance that they may survive and escape situations such as imprisonment, kidnapping, selling children, prostitution, beatings, rape, being held for ransom, human trafficking.

    In regards to common humanity, how could one view these people as anything less than another human being. It is so easy to be far away from these issues and to say they don’t concern you. But that is cowardice. I agree with the man who says the world politically and environmentally is, “ going to hell in a hand cart”, as I do not understand how someone could commit such atrocities to another human being. Let alone children. Even worse are those who have the ability to at the very least assist these PEOPLE yet refuse because it does not directly affect them or they don’t receive anything in return. I don’t believe hope is irrational, I believe hope is necessary. Hope is why these people risk their lives. Hope is all many of these migrants have. Hope that they will survive the journey of escaping the horrors they have faced. Because of this I believe more people should think with their heart. Honestly, I do not understand how one does not think with their heart when faced with information like this. These migrants are fellow human beings! Shouldn’t our first reaction be how can WE help? What can WE do to make a difference? What a world we live in where boats must be destroyed so that human traffickers cannot use them? That human beings are sold on a market. But then again these are just my thoughts and comments.

    Is it naive to think change can come from thinking with your heart?

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  4. I was unaware of how dangerous the journey was, so throughout the film I felt worry for those crossing. Of course you read about the difficulties but seeing the conditions of the people on the boat and hearing what they have gone through, it strikes you differently than just reading about it. One of the girls was talking about being trafficked and what girls go through, like black mail and if their families cannot pay ransom then they are sold. This reminded me of week eights readings of the human trafficking situation in the Mediterranean. I thought that the film highlighted the good nature of those who helped rescue the travelers and this gave me personally some peace of mind.
    Do you think that if more people saw what these refugees go through, in hopes of a better life, there would be more support from the public to help and assist humanitarian efforts?

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  5. I’ve always thought that the visual medium is more impactful than reading or word-of-mouth, so seeing what these refugees had to go through really hit me hard. Just to survive and look for a better future, the refugees have to do things most people wish they never have to, like go to the bathroom in the boat, bake in the sun, and risk their lives. We have talked in class about all of the hardships of migration and I think this documentary really shows just one small microcosm of it. The documentary was very intense, but I do think that it dragged each shot out too long and there were too many ‘establishing shots’, but I think it got its point across.
    What can we do as students to help these refugees? How has mass media influenced how people think of refugees?

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  6. When reading about the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, it is easy to forget that what we are reading are more than just stories, we are reading about real life experiences from other human beings. This film helps to humanize the accounts from refugees and makes them feel much more real. The way people clumsily scramble off the rubber dinghies and cry when in the safety of the rescue boats shows how real the issue is. I didn’t realize before watching this film that many refugees are not only fleeing from war in their home countries, but some of them are adults and children who had been kidnapped and ransomed and are seeking a safer life. When the captain of the rescue boat spoke about thinking with your heart, he wanted people to realize how dire this issue is. Thousands of people are dying by trying to escape into European countries because it is too hard and slow of a process to immigrate legally. If lawmakers of European (and other) countries would make the immigration process more attainable for those who need it, thousands of people wouldn’t be forced to illegally and dangerously try to find their own way into a safe country. The captain’s words also made me realize that those of us in Western countries can’t truly grasp the true issues of the refugee crisis because we are physically far separated from the issue. We don’t see the lives that are ruined by kidnappings, war, famine, and poverty. We don’t interact with people who risked life and limb to cross seas and borders. We have the resources to be able to help, so why don’t we? What other resources, like media, could we use to bring the horrible conditions and events that the refugees are going through to light?

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  7. The film was especially impactful because, instead of describing the migrant crisis with only words, it showed jarring and disturbing scenes that spoke to the severity of the situation, such as when the volunteers were plucking dead bodies of refugees that had washed up on the shore. Last year, one in every 18 people trying to cross the Central Mediterranean drowned, according to a statistic displayed in the film. In addition to the treacherous journey they face as they travel across the sea, migrants who were caught could be subjected to equally horrible conditions in prison camps if they were caught. I would be terrified to make this journey, especially if I could not swim, like many of the migrants in the film said. Another problem exposed by the film was the practice of kidnapping children to receive ransom money from their parents. The film echoed earlier readings in our class that exposed the horrors of refugee women that, while trying to meet someone who will traffic them into a safer country, were kidnapped and sold into sex trafficking. The film highlighted the obvious fact that these atrocities would not be occurring at all if European countries would open their borders to refugees, and be more sensitive to the refugees’ plight. However, I believe the film could have been more impactful if it addressed more elements that were discussed in our earlier readings. The articles we read, “Ten Borders” and “The Desperate Journey of a Trafficked Girl” show both the urgency of escaping their home countries for the refugees, and the perilous journey they must face when they make that decision.

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  8. I thought this was an incredibly powerful way of depicting the struggles faced by people who are simply looking for a better life and willing to risk death to achieve it. I feel this was a more impactful way of learning about the mass migration to Europe from Northern Africa and the Middle East. The severity of how much these people are risking going on this journey, in my opinion, is lost when read for a class or just simply talked about as second hand information. In this film we got to hear the stories of people from Cameroon and the Ivory Coast and the trails they endured. Some were running from human trafficking, while others were running from abusive governments/ militant groups as they made their way to the sea. However, just because they made it to the sea, doesn’t mean that they have found salvation. Once they get on these over crowded boats and rafts, they are instantly met with the threat of being stranded in the middle of the sea, starvation and dehydration. Hopefully more film and documentaries like these will continue to come out and make more of a societal impact, causing more European countries to open their borders to the people in need and stop turning a blind eye to the plight of countess men, women and children.

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  9. This was a very powerful documentary – we’ve talked about immigration a lot in class, but here we see the hard life that immigrants leave firsthand. It taking place at sea makes it all the more heartbreaking seeing babies and children going through this perilous journey, and we see that many people don’t survive because the lifeboats are overcrowded. One thing this film taught me that I didn’t know before was how the rescuers destroy their own lifeboats so that human traffickers can’t use them, like we talked about in class as well

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  10. While watching the film all I can think about is how different people view the Mediterranean Sea. Some people see it as their dream vacation destination and others see it as the way their family members died or one of the terrors they have to face if they want to make the move to a potentially better life. I was devastated to hear the statistic that 1 in every 18 people drownd who crossed the sea to make it to Europe. That isn’t even those who have died after reaching Europe. There are so many more challenges to face once they make it to shore.

    While watching the film I also kept thinking about the way the world speaks about immigrants. It is so challenging for me to understand how European explorers who set out to “discover ” a new world are labeled as heroes and when people do the same thing today, people literally hate them for it and think they are the lowest of low. This is similar to the discussion we had in class regarding the difference in language when speaking about someone moving to the West as an immigrant and then someone moving from the West as an ex-pat. The connotations that come along with those words are drastically different. It is so incredibly true that many people label immigrants and the refugee crisis and a problem and they just don’t want to deal with it. Immigrants and refugees are HUMAN BEINGS. We must must must start using our hearts more. I can’t understand how this is not a universal belief and feeling. I am happy I have decided to work in the peacebuilding field. I will use my countless privileges to fight for the voiceless.

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  11. What do we have to do to change the minds of the general public regarding immigration? Does it only work if they see imagery like Lifeboat? Do you think the world will ever care more about social justice than money?

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  12. However, I do have a question… I am a little confused about burning the boats. Yes, the human traffickers could resue the boats or so could the people trying to save the migrants, right? It would be more boats and more space for those rescuing and those rescued.

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  13. I found this documentary to be very powerful. As some of my other classmates have commented, we have discussed many times in class immigration, but this film turns the stories we talked about into reality. It humanizes immigrants and the struggles they face, we often forget the amount of risk these people take in order to make a journey to a new country. In my opinion I do not understand why there is so much hate towards immigrants. The majority of the time these people are trying to escape horrors in their own country and just simply want to establish their family in a new area that is safe with some opportunities for growth. From this film we see the actuality of how difficult the journey is, at least for the immigrants going to Europe. Hearing that 1 in every 18 people die while making the journey to Europe was saddening especially because there’s even more struggles and discrimination these people will have to face when they reach shore. I just feel that there needs to be more humanity and compassion for these immigrants. Most of us can never think about having to go through the challenges they have faced and I don’t see it as fair that they continue to have challenges even after they reach their prospective destination due to close-minded individuals. We should be trying to help immigrants instead of making things harder.

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  14. The lifeboat documentary is extremely compelling for a few reasons. Firstly, it is an immigration that is not necessarily talked about on a global level, and isn’t especially known to the general public. But what makes this documentary so effective? In my opinion, you think about refugees attempting to cross great distances on water on rubber rafts and just think how stupid can these people be to try this? Obviously the outcome would be a high rate of death! But this isn’t a thought that occurs to the people that attempt this. They believe it is their only chance at a better life, and would rather take this gamble for a better future instead of staying in their home countries where they are so helpless. Many of these refugees did not even know how to swim, yet get onto these small boats filled to the brim with their children and husbands, siblings, and strangers with the hope that they will make land or be found by some of the few rescue boats. I cannot think of anything more terrifying than being on the open sea without the ability to swim with no guarantee that anyone will be there to save you. Especially with some of the other refugees on board either dying or falling ill to heat stroke or dehydration, or even drowning. These people had to relieve themselves on the boat as well, with no privacy and no sanitary means about it. This documentary shows the absolute struggle for life that many refugees face all over the world, and can explain how terrible the conditions in the African region really are.

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