top of page

If everyone helps, we can change the world, one starfish at a time

The Starfish Foundation was started by locals on Lesvos
who witnessed one of the world’s greatest humanitarian disasters
unfolding on their shorelines.

Born out of the need to provide humanity, dignity, and care to all, Starfish
has since expanded to become one of the long-standing NGOs on the island.

Refugees arriving on the shores of Lesvos 2015

November 2014, 11:30 pm

The port police called me late one night. There was a group of 60 men huddled together on the shore, they were cold, and their clothes soaked. Their boat had sunk.  Together with others from the town of Molyvos, we rushed to gather warm clothes and blankets. Theo and I opened our restaurant to offer warm cups of tea. The next week there was another boat of people, cold, scared, and wet; and 2 more boats the week after that. Each week more and more boats arrived with refugees: in October 2015, over 60 boats arrived in one day. 

 ~ Melinda McRostie, founder

harbour of Molyvos where many refugee boats arrived in 2015 / 2016

Built a library of over 3,000 books and educational resources for refugee and local use - you can access it online!


Managed the registration of arriving refugees on behalf of the Port Authority

Turquoise Paneled Wall

Emergency Response

Served as the Emergency Response Coordinator of refugee ships and arrivals in peril

Transit Camps

Set-up and managed the largest refugee transit camp on the island - named OXY - which was at one point the largest in all of Europe

Since Starfish was established in 2015 we have:

Supported unaccompanied minors with additional food supplies, non-food aid and activities

Molyvos Harbour

Distributed 100,000+ masks and over 400 Baby Boxes;
in addition to food, clothing, hygiene supplies, strollers, wheelchairs, and much more.

Provided over 100 hours of Greek and English lessons for refugees

Blue Washed Wall

Set up a shared community space for classes and activities, where everyone is welcome.  Find out more about the opportunity hub and future events.

Starfish has contributed to aid distribution for over 20,000 refugees:

At the height of the humanitarian crisis in 2015, out of an enormous need, Starfish created, organised and managed a temporary reception and transit camp at the parking lot of the nightclub OXY.  Almost 200,000 people in need passed through and were given shelter, food, water, and dry clothes. 

The informal reception camp at OXY operated through the cooperation of many NGOs and groups, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the Red Cross, the Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA), Samaritans Purse, Euro Relief, Movement on the Ground, and Islamic relief.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, visited OXY and congratulated Starfish on the operation and infrastructure of the transit camp.

An “NGO success story”

The Guardian

UN High Commisioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres

The Starfish Story

Thousands of starfish have been washed up onto the shore and are dying.  

There is this little girl walking along the beach.  She sees all the starfish.  She starts picking up the starfish, and gently taking them back into the sea.

An old gentlemen is passing by.  He says, “Little girl, you can’t possibly save all these starfish. “

She picks up a starfish, shows it to the man, walks down to the edge of the sea and places the starfish back into the water.  Then, smiling at the man, she said, “I made a difference to that one.”

adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley

bottom of page