It was well into my teenage years when I realised that the odd language my father spoke when visiting his parents in 'our village’ was not due to some funny rural accent as we kids had thought and childishly kept making fun of them. It was about the same time when I also fully understood that the small, white and nearly identical houses, separated by unusually well aligned for Greek standards roads, were not a typical Greek village either. ‘Our world’ was a refugee camp, located in the desert-like landscape of the Thessaly flatland. It had been designed hurriedly to host the pain and hopes of our families and over the years evolved into a thriving community. ‘Our language’, was a refugee dialect, suppressed and demonised both in the country of origin (Tilkoy, Cappadocia) as well as in the new home in (#Halkiades, Greece).
Now, into the third generation since our own exodus, I cannot help it but shiver when I see refugees ritually re-enacting all the stories of sadness, trauma and hope we heard from our grandparents and felt in every corner of our little village. These days, Syrian refugees are walking through exactly the same routes our families had marked decades ago. Naturally, millions of Greeks who have been shaped by similar collective memories are now unconditionally, almost instinctively, in support of refugees. To us, refugees are not tragic figures, victims of a mad world; they are family. We know them well, although we have never met them before. Through their terrified eyes we see our grandparents. Through their children and grandchildren we see ourselves.
These days, in the seas and land of Greece hope is battling despair, light is fighting darkness and humanity is struggling against barbarism. But we have been there before and we know all too well: We Will Win Again. At the end humanity always prevails. Trust me and don't despair, our family histories are a testament to this fact.