I am back in Athens, Greece. I have returned to write, to find ways to be useful in the refugee community and to spend time with my Afghan family. So far, I am doing pretty well with one thing on my list. Sayed and Nahid and their children have enriched my life immeasurably, and they are making the most of the dramatic changes in their lives since they left Afghanistan. Continue reading
This is the story of Sayed and his family, refugees from Afghanistan who arrived in Greece in February 2016. I met Sayed while I was working in Greece as one of thousands of volunteers supporting refugees from the Middle East and Asia. Sayed’s story suggests some of the hardships and risks millions of people are taking to escape war and persecution. Sayed encouraged me to write this so others will understand a little about what people will endure to find safety and freedom.
My 90 day visa is up and the rules say I have to leave Europe. I am not ready to leave. Greece has meant so much to me, a place of beauty, community, philosophy and kindness. Continue reading
My hero, Pope Francis, came to Lesvos on my birthday. He was not visiting me personally, as you might guess, but his visit felt personal. He came because so many victims of war, oppression and persecution are not getting the benefit of global leadership that treats them according to Christian values. Or Jewish values. Or Muslim values. Or Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, Shinto, B’hai, Crips and Bloods values.
It is very hard to comprehend what has happened on the Island of Lesvos in a very short time. For more than a year, Lesvos was a place of kindness and generosity to half a million refugees. Local residents and international volunteers scrounged up resources with almost no help from government or large NGOs. Food, sanitation and shelter were inadequate but compassion and mutual understanding were in abundant supply.
I returned to Lesvos today after a week at the Port of Piraeus in Athens. Lesvos has changed. Continue reading
Martin Luther King said “The Arc of the Moral Universe is long but moves toward justice,” expressing the kind of hope that keeps us fighting for our children and something bigger than ourselves. The international agreement between Europe and Turkey that treats more than 3 million lives as a commodity is not moral, as the unfolding events here in Greece have already made clear.
I am heartbroken, like so many others, that Europe today adopted an illegal and inhumane agreement to deport refugees from Greece to Turkey.