When John Rudoff got off the ferry on the Greek island of Lesbos, he saw thousands and thousands of tents.
"People were literally camped out on every horizontal surface throughout Mitilini's harbor and ultimately the rest of the town," said Rudoff. Rudoff was in Lesbos to document the arrival of thousands of people fleeing conflict and deprivation in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rudoff was a cardiologist in Portland for 28 years, but has also always been a serious photographer. Now in his retirement, Rudoff wanted to help tell this important story.
"There were no toilets, there was one small tap that supplied running water," Rudoff said. "There were no shower facilities, and their only source of food was what they could buy from a small convenience store in the port."
The migrants were in Lesbos hoping to get official papers recognizing them as refugees. Officials on the island were overwhelmed by the number of people arriving at their doorsteps.
Rudoff said the migrants he talked to had paid smugglers between 1,000 and 1,500 Euros for passage to Greece. But they were not shepherded on their journey.
"They are quite literally put into a rubber raft which usually holds a roughly 20 horsepower ancient outboard motor on its transom and the smuggler will say, 'There's Greece, go!' and somebody will take the tiller of the engine and they'll go," he said.
Rudoff said the scale of the crisis was not clear to him until he was actually there. "People need to understand that this is not a couple of people sneaking across the Rio Grande. This is the migration of a population with a well founded fear of being destroyed."