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Lesvos: Three Greek grannies & a refugee baby – The story behind the picture

A sunshine of humanity. Amid a storm of tragedies with refugee babies and kids drawn in the Aegean Sea. Three Greek grannies and a refugee baby.  One of the elderly women holds the baby carefully in her arms and bottle feeds it. The mother stands nearby, relaxed that her baby is safe and in good hands.

It is not clear whether the refugee family will remain in this village or it will continue a journey of hardships through Europe. The second stage of their journey, the boat passage from Turkey to Greece, was safe.

The picture was taken last week on Lesvos, on of the Greek islands opposite of Turkey that have been receiving several thousands of refugees each week since last spring.

Today, daily Ethnos has the story behind the picture:

lesvos grannies refugees

Last Friday afternoon in the village Skala Sykamias in Lesvos. The three grannies sit on their favorite bench as every afternoon and watch members of the Coast Guard and volunteers helping refugees who have arrived with three boats from Turkey.

Militsa Kamvisi, 83, Eustratia Mavrapidi, 89, and her cousin Maritsa Mavrapidi, 85, suddenly hear a baby crying. The mother was holding it in her arms, was trying to bottle feed it. Her clothes were wet, the baby didn’t want the milk.

“Hey, girl, bring the baby over, I’ll feed it,” Militsa told the mother in Greek, a language she could not understand. But granny’s face expression and accompanying gesture were very clear and broke the language barrier. Milits took the baby boy in her arms, gave it the bottle, she started to sing a lullaby together with her friends.

“A mother is always a mother. I don’t see very well anymore, I don’t hear well, but still I can feed and calm down a baby,” Militsa told the daily and added “The baby wanted security. the mother’s cloths were wet, the father was in panic because the baby was crying. We were just sitting there and there was something we could do. I grabbed the baby and the bottle, it felt the dry hug, we sang a lullaby and it drank the milk in one row.”

The baby was one month old.

Militsa, the woman from Skala Sykamias spent all her life working ‘in the olive trees’ of the family. She has raised 4 children and 8 grandchildren. A hard working woman, a modest woman.

“My daughter told me that the picture was all over the internet. I didn’t do something extraordinary. I just wanted to help a girl in trouble and in wet clothes.” Militsa tells the daily reporter that every afternoon she sits on the bench with her two friends and watch the rescue operations, “how rescuers jump into the cold sea to save people” or bring on the shore drowned children and adults.

“They bring out dead boys and girls. Adults, as well. My heart hurts and I can’t sleep at night. What’s these people’s fault? The lost their homes, they left their homes and came here before they further travel to Europe. It’s a sin that they are drowned in the sea.”

The picture has gone viral.

Grannies vs Government and institutions

“Three Greek grannies and a refugee baby” is the best answer to the ugly scenes of policemen kicking and beating migrants, to the angry EU citizens who want war refugees back to their countries, to the EU member states that hesitate to take measures to solve the humanitarian crisis, to German Chancellor Angela Merkel who exploits refugees for her own internal political survival.

Simple people, the thousands of volunteers across Europe, give solutions where institutions and governments fail.

In sharp contrast

lesvos grannies refugees

Three Greek grannies and a refugee baby

merkel erdogan

German Chanellor Merkel, Turkish President Erdogan in neo-ottoman thrones bargain “refugees vs money & EU accession” during her visit in Istanbul, Sunday.

And they all live happily ever after…

‘Three grannies & a baby’ picture shot last week by photographer Lefteris Partsalis and uploaded on news website rizopoulos post. Excellent job, Lefteris 🙂

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  1. Thank you, Greece, for showing humanity!
    The problem is that attention for Greece has waned. In Germany there is hardly any more news about Greece.
    But I have an idea: I think it would be a great idea if a Greek vlogged daily from Lesbos, thus combining the reality of Greek life in times of austerity with the reality of refugee life. It needs to be a format of short regular English-language videos, but mustn’t be too depressive.
    We mustn’t forget about Greece completely again like we did between the reform packages.

  2. Mutti Merkel needs to save her political legacy so in order to stop the flow of people from the ME she is willing to invite millions of Turks into Europe and let Erdogan’s tyrannical regime become part of the EU. That is interesting on many fronts (Erdogan has been actively supporting IS and has been bombing the Kurds who are fighting IS), not the least that Turkey still keeps part of another EU member occupied. Merkel is now also becoming part of the Turkish elections. Bob Dylan once said that you cannot always trust your ‘Mutti’.

    • 10,000 refugees arrive in Germany daily and Hungary is closed now. The situation is unsustainable. If Slovenia, Austria or Croatia close their borders, many refugees will suddenly get stuck at a border in the cold. Thus the Turkish-Greek border needs to be humanely closed as soon as possible. Merkel already said she is opposed to a Turkish EU membership and Greece would veto that anyway.