Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Our Syrian Friends

It's a WAR out there, everywhere....
I planned to write this blogpost since the first day our Syrian friends came to stay in our house but I delayed with all the things we had to do.
Today under the sad fog of the explosions in Belgium I am sitting down to write this.
 But I will have to start from the beginning.
I am a refugee.
I was born in Constantinople (Istanbul) Turkey, from Greek parents and of Greek origin. My great great grandparents were from Skyros and Chios islands, Greece.
In 1969 we were displaced from Constantinople to Greece. We were told to leave, we had to leave. In Turkey we were considered Greeks correctly.
When we arrived in Greece we were called Turks by those who know nothing of History.
We survived.
We were poor. We had to stand in line in the Greek Foreign Affairs Bureau to take a residence permit and a working permit for 6 months. And all that inspite the fact that we were of Greek origin, spoke Greek and were Christian Orthodox, the official religion of the country.
We survived. We met good people, good neighbours who opened their homes for us and although we had no relatives in Thessaloniki (all were in Athens) we went forward alone because of good friends.
Fast forward .....
Albanians, Russians, Georgians, Armenians all immigrants, flee to Greece to find jobs and survive from their very very poor countries.Thousands of them, more than a million. I teach in a school where 80% of the pupils were born in Albania or are of Albanian origin. They are poor. They survive. They do all kinds of jobs to survive. They try to live a better life. Nowadays after 20 years in Greece they started managing to buy houses. They settle here.
Fast forward to today....
A five year war with no end is destroying Syria. Asad, anti-Asad and Isis powers kill thousands of people in a war that seems to have no end. Simultaneously the war moves to other countries as terrorists attack U.S.A., France, Turkey, today Belgium......
Millions of Syrian people, the innocent victims of this conflict flee to neighbouring countries to find a way to reach their relatives and friends abroad.
Suddenly the Greek islands become the recipient of hundreds of boats filled with thousands of refugees fleeing the war. A lot of them drown on the way. The Aegean becomes the wet tomb of hundreds who will be forgotten as names but not as souls. But some others like the Turks who transfer them here get rich.
Greece becomes the passing through country for those who want to go to European countries to find a better life. But they want to go to countries that don't want them.
And now Europe and Turkey playing their games decide to send those people back...back where? No one knows yet.
For the time being more than 50.000 people, refugees from Syria mainly, but also poor immigrants from other countries like Afganistan, Pakistan, and others are stuck in Greece. They are stuck in a country who is suffering a financial crisis for years now. They are stuck in a country that does not have the means to give employment to its own children who emigrate abroad. They are stuck in a country with thousands of people who live under the poverty level. They are stuck in a country that unfortunately has many inhabitants who don't want them. They are stuck in small military camps, living in tents, with nothing but the clothes they wear.
But they are also stuck in a country which has many many people who have love to give them too. Many people who believe that God is one and it doesn't matter what religion or race you are. People who do their best to help them. Volunteers all over Greece and the military are helping as much as they can. They cook for them, offer medical services, interpreting services.People offer food, clothes,money to help cover the cost of having so many people living under these conditions for an unknown period of time.
 In all this situation some people opened their houses and took refugees in to give them a chance to get some rest, have  a bath, eat some homemade food. Our friend Tassos did it too and we followed his example.
For a few days we had a Syrian family in our house. Mohamed, Nour and sweet little Hanyn are now our friends. We don't know if what we did was important for others, but I know it was for them and for us. I don't know how they will end up and if we will see them ever again.
I just hope they find a better life soon. They will need patience and strength. They are young, educated, kind people.May they are safe and happy. That's all I wish them.
I know what we did was a tiny seed in comparison to the enormity of the problem. But if everyone did something small then something big would be accomplished in the end.I wanted to write this blogpost to explain why I feel so close to all those innocent people who are stuck in my country.
It was  alife changing experience for me.
And I am so happy that I was into this as strongly as were my husband, my son and my mum. Oh yes and my dog too who adored our friends!
Here I would also like to thank my friends who helped financially or with much needed things for our  new friends. Also I 'd like to thank my colleagues at school who gathered money for a pram our friends needed. I would like to thank all those who loved what we did and showed it in any way they could.
I am sorry some others didn't care much for what we were doing or for those who didn't even like what we were doing. Those I am sorry to say do not belong to my friends' circle anymore.
Let's all fight for WAR to stop wherever it takes place. Do not think that because a war is happening far away from your little home you are safe. The attacks in Belgium prove that.
And wherever you are look around you and give a hand where you are needed.
People become enemies when they are maltreated and rejected. They do not become enemies when they feel they are loved, accepted and supported.

35 comments:

Dream on the wave said...

Beautifully written, I admire you and your family for your generosity and kind hearts.
Much love

Ian Cox said...

Bravo to you and your family and all the people who helped. Please try and get this published by the European media - we need to show what is happening and it's not what the politicians tell us!

kathyinozarks said...

Excellent post, so glad you shared with us.
Sending along a big cyber (((hug))) to you all

Justine said...

What a lovely thing you did for that family. Such true words.

Ο κόσμος της Ράνιας said...

Μπράβο σας και στους φίλους σας επίσης που βοήθησαν !!! Είναι απαραίτητο ο καθένας μας να κάνει ότι μπορεί γι αυτούς τους ανθρώπους ! Να είστε καλά !!!!

nikol said...

Εχεις μια εξαιρετική θέση στην καρδιά μου για ότι καταφέρατε εσύ , ο άντρας σου και ο γυιός σου !!!
Δεν υπάρχουν λόγια !!!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I'm so glad you wrote this post and I am so proud to call you my friend. I've cried reading what you describe. We don't always see how it touches every day people and other countries. Thank you for being the strong person and good Christian and opening your home and your heart to those in such dire need. I'll keep them in my prayers. Sweet hugs, Diane

Zina Z said...

οι Ελληνες δυστυχως εχουν στο αιμα τους την προσφυγια...να μην το ξεχναμε αυτο ποτε και να μην κατηγορουμε οσους απλα περνανε τα ιδια που ειχαν περασει οι προγονοι μας. Να ειμαστε δυνατοι να βοηθαμε και να προσφερουμε και να ειναι δυνατοι να αντεξουν στο δυσκολο ταξιδι τους. Προσπαθειες σαςν τις δικες σας Αριαδνη πρεπει να γινονται παραδειγμα!

Brigitte said...

A great post, Ariadne. And there is nothing more to add.

dimitrART said...

Δεν μπορούσε να αναλυθεί το προσφυγικό με πιο όμορφο, συγκινητικό και ανθρώπινο τρόπο!Μπράβο σε σένα Αριάδνη και στην οικογένειά σου!Μακάρι οι νέοι σου φίλοι να βρουν στο μέλλον αγάπη και ζεστασιά σε μια ειρηνική και ανεπτυγμένη χώρα.

Sara said...

What a touching story. I wish there were more people like you and your family around. I wish good luck to your new friends and to all the others in a similar situation. With kindness and love peace will prevail.

Kim said...

What a moving and deeply evocative post, Ariadne. We need to read your important words. How lovely for this family that you helped and showed them many kindnesses. May they hold your kindnesses in their hearts and give them hope for their uncertain future. In those impossible days may they remember there are people such as you and your family who cared enough to show them love and extend the hand of friendship. May it encourage them to get through each impossible day. So many displaced people, so much sadness. The world is such an angry, confusing place. I suppose if each day we can be the best we can be and extend the hand of love, kindness and generosity of spirit to those we meet each day, in our little corner of the world, then we are doing our little bit. It is the little kindnesses that change a person's life. Thank you for sharing this deeply moving post and may God bless you. Xx

Mii Stitch said...

What a wonderful thing you did for this family.

diymyday said...

Αυτό που όλοι σκεφτόμαστε, αλλά κανείς μας δεν έχει το θάρρος να το κάνει, εσύ το έκανες πράξη. Πράξη αγάπης και ανθρωπιάς. Ένα μεγάλο μπράβο και ένα μεγάλο φιλί σε όλους σας!

Jeanneke said...

Don't know what to say.
Your good works will work out even better for these poor refugees.
Thanks for sharing your story, your home and your heart, Ariadne!!
I am putting a link to this post on my blog as soon as I have pushed the publish button.
Sending blessings and love to you and your family.

Jeanneke.

Kirsty Vittetoe said...

Oh Ariadne, such a touching and great example you are setting for everyone! Yes, I am so agree with you that if everyone do a small part, the world could be a different place. I am so sad that America is going to be a worst place if t* get elected (you know who), so anti-immigrant, so aganist a religion, and certain race, and all those people who supported him blindly, they are just "small people" who doesn't even know anything about the world besides their small town in America. My husband work with a lot of immigrants from Pakistan, Iran, they are the most hard working and kind people we ever met. Hats off to you and your family, and may God blessed the Syrian family friend and their baby, to have a safe and smooth journey wherever they will be heading. Thanks for sharing your story dear!

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for sharing with us. Blessings to you and your family for your kindness.

prpltrtl946 said...

So beautiful! You and this post!! <3 8*)

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Thank you. Thank you for doing this and for sharing this.

julochka said...

so lovely and generous and kind and thoughtful. we need so much more of that in the world!

givi said...

Lovely post. At the moment I teach refugees who have come to my country. There are so much sadness and evil in this world, but also so many like you and your friends - survivers. Hold on to that. Happy easter!

Brigitte Lepoix said...

Bravo to you and Themis! I know a bit of your past and family history and understand how you feel, and why you feel that urge to help those people. I guess I would have done the same. God Bless you for your love and kindness to those in need.

Wen Sylvestre said...

Sweetie, this is such a meaningful post, thank you! Thank you for sharing, thank you for your example. It is a scary time. Take care dear, xx

Kaisievic said...

Wonderful post, Ariadne, my dear - it move me to tears. lots of hugs to you and your family and friends from Syria.

Christina Andromeda said...

Τι όμορφο που είναι το παιδάκι τους! Δε θα σου πω γλυκανάλατα μπράβο, είμαστε περήφανοι για σένα και για τον καθένα ξεχωριστά που προσφέρει έστω και το ελάχιστο.
Είναι πολύ πολύ σημαντικό που ανέβασες την ανάρτηση γιατί πραγματικά με όλη αυτή την ρατσιστική προπαγάνδα που γίνεται, πρέπει να προβάλλεται κάθε μικρή μας κίνηση.

Και χάρηκα ιδιαίτερα που στη δική σας περιπέτεια συναντήσατε καλούς ντόπιους, ομολογώ πως οι ιστορίες της προσφυγιάς που ακούω δεν είναι καθόλου κολακευτικές για τη χώρα μας.

Aleka Craftaholic said...

είμαι περήφανη που σε έχω blogoφίλη γιατί ξέρεις τι θα πει αγάπη και ξέρεις να την μοιράζεσαι.

Lillie said...

What a wonderful and heartwarming post. Bless you and your family for your kindness. Happy Easter!

Kiki Aposeki said...

Μπράβο σας!!! Εύχομαι πραγματικά όλη αυτή η αγάπη να σας επιστρέφεται στη ζωή σας!!! Είστε φοβεροί!!!

Marie-Anne said...

Πολύ συγκινητική και ανθρώπινη η ανάρτησή σου, Αριάδνη μου!!!
Μακάρι να μπορούσαν όλοι να βοηθήσουν αυτούς τους συνανθρώπους μας!
Το πρόβλημα όμως είναι πολύ μεγάλο και δεν βλέπω να δίνονται λύσεις από το κράτος και από την Ευρώπη.
Καλή δύναμη και καλή τύχη στην οικογένεια που φιλοξενήσατε!

mandysea said...

Oh my.....
I'm so humbled to have read this,
god bless you and your family for opening your home, giving some small amount of peace to this little family.
xx

Ros Crawford said...

What an amazing post ... My heart is heavy for this terrible war torn world. What you did and are doing is a wonderful thing ... I have family helping as best they can on one of the Greek Islands too. I cannot and never will understand why people can't live together in harmony... May God bless you and your friends and all those who are suffering ... Thank you for sharing

Stitching Noni said...

Such an amazing post... Take care :)
Hugs xx

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

That was a very interesting and beautiful story to read. I also have refugees coming to my schools and I really admire how they try to find a place and a new place and a new language. Some are children coming to that far away part of the world (you can't get any more west than Brittany) without their parents. Teachers are very welcoming to them, some are helpful, others not, but not all citizens welcome them...

Lorraine said...

God bless you and your family and friends and the new friends that you met and took in. What a wonderful and thought provoking post. Thank you for sharing.

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

What a fantastic post, written from the heart I can tell.

You did a lovely kind thing for that family and I am sure they enjoyed the friendship as much as the safe haven for a while.

I have been sharing the Concern Stitching for Syria details as much as possible, it's a (very) little something we can do too.