The little town of Nafplio was the first capital of Greece after the Ottoman Turks got the boot in 1822. I can’t help but wonder how different Nafplio would be if the capital hadn’t been moved to Athens. It is just so adorable. And, well, Athens is not.
I spent most of my fall in Athens even though it is not the kind of place I would normally want to visit for more than a day or two. Athens is a train wreck — dirty, ugly, full of hazards like slippery sidewalks, crazy drivers and railings on sixth floor verandas that are easily scaled by ambitious toddlers. Continue reading
The air is breezy and warm on the balcony of Sayed and Nahid’s 6th floor apartment. The top of a large plastic table is a mosaic of plates piled high with rice and meat and vegetable dishes, mostly Afghan. From the table, we can see the Acropolis — 17 of us perched on rickety chairs or lounging on a small sofa that looks like early Ikea. Continue reading
Skaramangas is a harbor west of central Athens named after a wealthy English family. It is also a refugee camp at the harbor west of central Athens named after a wealthy English family. Since April, Skaramangas Camp is what must pass for home for about 3,000 people from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. It is considered to be one of the good camps.
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.