Marc Gasol has spent the last week volunteering aboard the Open Arms Proactiva, a ship operated by a Spanish NGO that works to rescue migrants from the Mediterranean Sea. According to the UN, 1,443 asylum seekers and refugees trying to make it to Europe have died on the journey so far this year, and organizations like Proactiva Open Arms attempt to rescue people who find themselves in danger. Last Sunday, Gasol dove into the water to help save a Cameroonian woman named Josefa who had been clinging to a piece of driftwood for around 48 hours after a boat she was on sank 90 miles off the coast of Libya. The team also recovered the bodies of two people who died along the way.
“There were pieces of wood and clothes floating in the water,” Gasol told the Guardian. “Then there was that woman, with her elbows resting on a wooden beam. Her eyes were lost in the void. She was weak and in shock. She had been clinging to that piece of wood with her last bit of strength and had remained that way for 48 hours. I thought of this woman, of her strength. And I felt anger.”
Gasol added, “How can we pretend it isn’t happening? Before being an athlete, I’m a person, a human being, like the ones Open Arms are saving every day. We must work so that these tragedies never happen again. We are all responsible.”