After 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body floated ashore in Turkey, this couple sprang into action to prevent more tragedies. To date, the organization has rescued 40,000 people.
When someone is truly altruistic, they don’t expect rewards, gratitude or even praise from their peers. This is exactly how married Italian-American couple Christopher and Regina Catrambone, lives. They are examples of that exceptional group of society’s members that cares deeply for other humans, especially those who are suffering. Empathy, love and solidarity are perhaps the qualities that best define them.
A native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Christopher Catrambone is a passionate humanitarian and adventurer, but also an entrepreneur. In 2006 he founded the Tangiers Group, a now prestigious global firm specializing in insurance, emergency assistance, claims handling and intelligence services. His wife, Regina Catrambone, was born and raised in Southern Italy and is on the Tangiers Group Board of Directors.
After nearly 400 immigrants drowned in Lampedusa, Italy, in 2013, Regina and Christopher were moved to act. They bought a boat, equipped a crew and founded MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station), a charity dedicated to saving lives at sea, in Malta.
Having worked on the frontiers of what is likely the most devastating humanitarian catastrophe of our generation, MOAS calls for solutions that ensure that those seeking asylum can do so without risking their lives.
Since 2014, the organization has rescued and assisted more than 40,000 people in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. Regina and Christopher hope that their humanitarian initiative will inspire others (especially international governments, corporations and organizations) and help dispel what Pope Francis calls the “globalization of indifference,” a feeling shared by people around the world that there are people so dispossessed that it is not even worth worrying about them. “We believe it’s time for the world to realize that we cannot hide from this reality. The migrant and refugee crisis is a global phenomenon that requires collective action by world leaders, the private sector and non-governmental organizations,” says Regina.
MOAS was the first NGO to set sail in the Central Mediterranean with the aim of rescuing migrants and refugees who were making the dangerous trip from Libya to Italy. In September 2015, following the tragic death of Aylan Kurdi, a small, 3-year-old Syrian boy whose body floated ashore in Turkey, MOAS expanded its operations by chartering a second vessel and sending it to the Aegean Sea on December 23, 2015. There, in the cold and dangerous waters, the crew rescued 1,869 refugees of predominantly Syrian descent.
On April 1, 2017, MOAS launched its fifth search and rescue mission in the Central Mediterranean with a single ship, the Phoenix (an SAR vessel that MOAS has been using since 2014), but now for the first time, they have the help of a patrolling aircraft, which provides a longer range and is equipped for better detection of vessels in danger. This year, more than 7,000 people have been rescued by the MOAS team in search and rescue missions.
Despite the fact that some have expressed skepticism about MOAS since the company since has chosen a tax haven like Malta for its headquarters, the reality is that the NGO is saving thousands of lives with its work. ■
For more information about MOAS, or to make a donation, please visit: MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station)
PHOTOS: © Robert Young Pelton / MOAS.
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