Joanna Kakissis

The men and women from eight African countries packed into a rubber raft late last month and set off from the Libyan city of Sabratha in the hope of crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy.

But powerful sea winds blew them off course. They drifted at sea for 10 days before their boat ended up back in Libyan waters and capsized off the coast of Misrata.

At least 12 died. Libyan authorities managed to rescue 10.

George Sarelakos emerges from the sea lugging a giant tire. Another two divers surface — with a shopping cart and a netted bag bulging with a cassette player, cans and lots of plastic.

It takes six more people to heave this all onto the main pier of the Greek island of Poros.

Liliana Czegledi devoted herself to keeping her daughter, Ioana, alive.

The girl had been born with a compromised immune system, a damaged heart and muscles that wouldn't work. She wasn't expected to live past her second birthday. Czegledi gave up her bartending job to care for her.

"I made sure she never caught a cold because the doctor said a cold could kill her," recalls Czegledi, 50, at her home in the village of Sînandrei in western Romania. "I only brought her into the hospital when it was absolutely necessary."

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For decades, whenever stevedore Giorgos Nouchoutidis arrived for work at the port of Piraeus, he would breathe in the fresh, briny sea breeze and feel a surge of pride.

Like many churchgoers in Romania, retired engineer Marius Tufis opposes same-sex marriage.

"I don't like man with man and woman with woman," he said, frowning in the sun after Sunday's service. "Our religion does not accept this."

Same-sex marriage is already banned in Romanian civil code, but that's not enough for Tufis. He worries that the European Union, which he sees as divided between the liberal West and the conservative East, will force Romania to change the law.

Social conservatives may have lost their fight against same-sex marriage in the United States. But in Eastern Europe, they appear to be winning.

Romania is one of several Eastern European nations that already ban both same-sex marriage and same-sex unions in civil law. Now it's trying to ban it in the constitution. The government is spending millions holding a two-day referendum this weekend so voters can approve the change.

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