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
The Greek word “philoxenia” is literally translated as “friend of strangers” but its essential meaning is “generosity of spirit.” I have experienced this Greek value every day in Molyvos for the past two months. In addition to having flowering pastures, dramatic hillsides, sheep bells clanging through the valleys, amazing food and beautiful beaches, Molyvos is home to some of the most friendly, caring people I have ever met.
I returned to Lesvos today after a week at the Port of Piraeus in Athens. Lesvos has changed. Continue reading
Hope is a word you hear a lot on Lesvos. Many here talk about how lucky they have been to have met so many people who have lost everything but still have hope. This week I was inspired again to have welcomed a boat to shore. After hearing that a lot of boats would be landing south of Mytilene, Jo from England and I drove over the mountain to Mytilene. We arrived at about 6:30am at “Campfire,” where the NGOs stand watch all night, and met Cedric, a photojournalist from Paris. Several boats had arrived before dawn, escorted in by Frontex or the Coast Guard.
As I settle in here and talk to locals and volunteers, I hear so many amazing stories. The community of Lesvos has made a difference in the lives of so many and has itself been profoundly transformed by the refugee crisis.
During my first few days back in Molyvos, I have been settling in and trying to find my Greek center. I am staying in a small traditional cottage just outside of Molyvos next to a grove of olive trees with sheep — the two staples of the Lesvos landscape. It is quiet and comfortable and adorable.
I arrived on Lesvos on Friday as Macedonia shut its borders and left tens of thousands of refugees stranded in Greece without adequate shelter, food or water. Ten Balkan countries, lead by Austria, declared they would no longer admit Afghan refugees inside their borders and would impose strict procedures on others.
I took a break yesterday after seven days. Most of the volunteers do not seem to take days off. The refugee work here is relentless and addictive. It should have been a slow day because the winds did not permit crossings. But at Lighthouse, I found a dozen people repairing damage to the store rooms caused by a storm the night before. Four more were restocking the clothes bins.