Boxer Amir Khan has revealed the “emotional rollercoaster” he experienced when meeting migrants in Greece during a mission to deliver aid.
The 28-year-old travelled to the island of Lesbos to give water, sleeping bags and food to families from Syria who have fled violence in their homeland.
Khan’s foundation and the Penny Appeal charity are set to deliver more supplies that have been donated by Britons after he made the 20,000-mile mercy mission last week.
The two-time world champion told Eastern Eye the heartbreaking scenes he witnessed made him think of his one-year-old daughter.
He said: “Seeing these young children facing such struggles is hard for every parent, and I can’t imagine having to make the difficult decisions and perilous journeys these families are undertaking every day.
“We met women and young children who had been walking for days and, for me, in this day and age it’s unacceptable.
“The women were malnourished and couldn’t produce milk for their babies, and there was no milk formula or even a bottle to be seen, which sadly makes you think the worst.
“As a father you want only the best for your children, and so I’m doing this to help other parents give their children a better future too.”
The Bolton-based fighter had an eventful journey with him and his team having their luggage lost at Athens airport.
He even sparred with Abdul Jowad, 65, a former boxer from Syria, who left his home because of Islamic State extremists.
And Khan is focused on giving long-term help to migrants.
“Having witnessed at first-hand the tens of thousands of men, women and children in urgent need, I know this is crisis is only going to get bigger,” he told Eastern Eye.
“When I spoke to the families, they all asked for one thing, which was education for their children, as even the eight-year-olds have never seen a school.
“Everyone we met was so humble and polite, and they were even apologising for any mess that was left behind.
“It was clear that these people were hard-working, and weren’t looking to live off any state – they just wanted to find a safe place to live where they can rebuild their lives.
“We met everyone from professors, business owners and even a national Syrian boxer – and it made me think it was only the people with savings who could escape, what about all the other people left behind on a daily battle of survival in their war-torn countries?”
The aid convoy travelled from the Olympic silver medalist’s gym in Bolton to Greece where stranded migrants are waiting for travel documents.
Just £50 can really help. Donate at http://www.pennyappeal.org or call 03000 111111.