Tom Behrenbeck (20) from Cologne, with his project “TomForRescue”, pursued two goals at once: Helping people in need, and showing people in Germany, through his website, the conditions in one of the world’s most critical regions, the Mediterranean Sea at Libya.
In his online blog, he published daily reports, photos and videos of rescue missions so that people worldwide could take part in those events. Through his efforts, Tom managed to collect 6.420€ worth of donations.
In the summer of 2016, Tom assisted in various rescue missions aboard the rescue cruiser MS Aquarius for the duration of six weeks. For him, it was the most impactful time of his life. Together with the team of the sea rescue organisation SOS Méditerranée he went on missions off the libyan coast. 12 miles off the cost, they came to the rescue of many refugees who tried their luck crossing the sea on their way to Europe. Within the first 24 hours aboard, they had already accomplished four missions, rescuing almost 500 stranded people. Many more followed.
During his time aboard, 1492 people were brought back onshore. Unfortunately, in many cases only the dead bodies of refugees could be retrieved by the team. As member of the Search and Rescue Team, Tom got involved in all of the different areas, such as searching for refugee boats, calming down refugees on their first cruise, bringing them to the mothership, and providing supplies and food.
For him, it was a deeply fulfilling work. In nightly conversations, he heard gruesome stories about the exploitation in libyan working camps, rapes, coercions, public shootings and acid attacks on African women who refused the Libyan tractors. Even with a sympathetic ear, one can help and soothe others.