I’m Christopher Catrambone, a humanitarian, entrepreneur and adventurer from Louisiana.
I’ve had a varied career which has taken me all over the world, and now allows me to take the skills I’ve honed in business and apply them to philanthropic endeavours.
After completing my studies in Criminology in 2005, I lost my home to Hurricane Katrina. At the time, I was working on an insurance case in the Virgin Islands, so a couple of friends and I pooled our resources and opened a steamboat restaurant.
My work at the time was taking me to some of the world’s most dangerous places, including Iraq and Afghanistan — which isn’t typically what most people think of when they hear the word ‘insurance’.
In 2006 I founded Tangiers, now a leading global business specializing in insurance, emergency assistance, on-the-ground claims handling and up-to-the-minute information services.
With the business growing rapidly, I moved to my ancestral home of Reggio di Calabria, Italy. It was there I met my now-wife, Regina.
As Tangiers grew, expanding its reach to more than 100 countries, we relocated to Malta with our daughter Maria-Luisa.
During a family sailing trip, a discarded jacket floating in the sea opened our eyes to the mounting crisis unfolding on the Mediterranean.
In October of 2013, 350 migrants and refugees drowned off the coast of Lampedusa. In response, my wife Regina and I founded the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS).
We bought and fitted a 40-metre drone-equipped rescue vessel. The Phoenix took to the Med with a team of volunteers, as well as a top-flight staff of medical and rescue workers, where we worked tirelessly to save lives at sea.
It was a bold move and it attracted a lot of criticism. Slowly but surely, governments and international non-governmental organisations got on board and joined in our mission. After the tragic peak of 2015, public donations began to come in which enabled us to set out with another rescue vessel.
All told, our search and rescue program helped save over 30,000 lives, and was carried out in parallel with our advocacy and engagement work, pressing governments of the region to ensure safe and legal routes.
One of those saved at sea was Noura, who fled her home in war-ravaged Syria, across the Mediterranean, and on overland to reunite with family in Germany.
We’ve since stepped back from active search and rescue on the Med, focusing instead on sharing our expertise. XChange, our research arm, continues to produce valuable insights and hard data on conflict and displacement scenarios around the world, which we hope will equip policymakers to take informed and humanitarian-minded measures.
Through XChange, we’ve looked at the trans-Saharan migration routes in a landmark report from Agadez, parent-child separation of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the perilous on-foot journeys taken by Venezuelan migrants through Colombia, forced migration of persecuted LGBT people and more
In 2016 and 2017, as Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya minority fled military atrocities, MOAS set up humanitarian operations in Bangladesh. Since then, we’ve helped communities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic from our satellite clinic in Bangladesh, as well as through direct aid in Somalia, Yemen and closer to home, in Malta.
We’ve worked to empower those in the refugee camps, teaching them water-management techniques — a skill that during the monsoon season can be the difference between life and death. We’ve extended our life-saving expertise to tackle the problem of drowning by teaching people to swim.
Having seen firsthand the kind of conditions that those less fortunate are forced to endure, I see advocacy and action as a moral imperative. I love the challenge of tackling tough problems to help people make it through impossible situations.
If you’re interested in finding out how we can work together, please get in touch.