Sara Mardini

“I have experienced being inside and outside the boat, I am a rescuer and a refugee. Every single boat I have ever helped, I have felt in my bones.”

In Syria born and raised, Sara Mardini was а professional swimmer. When violence erupted in Damascus during the Syrian Civil War, her family traveled to Turkey and boarded an inflatable boat to reach Greece. Disaster struck when the heavily overcrowded boat’s engine stopped working and started to sink. As lifeguards, as well as professional swimmers, Sarah and her sister Yrsa, along with two other men, jumped into the ocean and pushed the boat through the rough Aegean sea for the next 3.5 hours to safety in Lesvos. They saved 18 people on board and were hailed as heroes by the international press.

In 2018 Sara returned to the island Lesvos, Greece to volunteer and help other migrants get safely to the shore. However, she was arrested by the Greek Government and faced prison sentences of up to 25 years after being accused of facilitating people-smuggling through membership of a criminal organisation. After 107 days of incarceration, Sarah has been freed from Greece’s toughest jail.