As a million displaced people sought refuge in Europe, the global relief system failed. This is the story of the volunteers who stepped forward to help.

The Unlikely Volunteers at the Heart of the Migrant Aid Crisis
by Dana Sachs
‎ Bellevue Literary Press, March 2023
(via Kaplan/Defiore Rights)

In 2015, increasing numbers of refugees and migrants, most of them fleeing war-torn homelands, arrived by boat on the shores of Greece, setting off the greatest human displacement since WWII. As journalists reported horrific mass drownings, an ill-prepared and seemingly indifferent world looked on. Those who reached Europe needed food, clothing, medicine, and shelter, but the international aid system broke down completely.
ALL ELSE FAILED is Dana Sachs’s compelling eyewitness account of the successes—and failures—of the volunteer relief network that emerged to meet the enormous need. People from around the globe pitched in to address the crisis. Yet the most dedicated and effective volunteers were often migrants themselves, including Rima, a mother of six, who cooked for four hundred refugees in an abandoned schoolhouse in Athens; Ibrahim, who managed donations flowing to the grassroots effort; and Sami, whose language skills helped fellow migrants navigate a foreign world.
Closely following the odysseys of seven individual men and women, and their families, ALL ELSE FAILED tells a story of despair and resilience, revealing the humanity within an immense humanitarian disaster.

Dana Sachs is a journalist, novelist, and cofounder of the nonprofit Humanity Now: Direct Refugee Relief, which supports grassroots teams providing aid to displaced people. A former Fulbright Scholar, she is the author of three works of nonfiction, The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam; The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam; and All Else Failed: The Unlikely Volunteers at the Heart of the Migrant Aid Crisis (forthcoming from Bellevue Literary Press in March 2023), as well as the novels If You Lived Here and The Secret of the Nightingale Palace. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, and Mother Jones. Sachs lives in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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