The picture of an elderly woman from the island of Lesbos bottle-feeding a refugee infant has made its rounds all over the world. Many felt Emilia Kamvysi should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. But the elderly Greek woman was only one of the thousands of Greeks who extend a helping hand to the thousands of souls seeking asylum, away from the maddening, bloody Syrian war.
One can’t help but wonder: Why is it that crisis-stricken Greeks with their millions of problems show such hospitality, such generosity and such humanity to refugees?
The answer could be very simple: Greeks help refugees because, for many of them, their parents and grandparents were refugees too.
In Athens there are whole neighborhoods built by refugees from Asia Minor, when they were kicked out by the Turks who also confiscated their fortunes and households in 1922.
Also, there are very few Greeks who don’t have a relative who happened to migrate to another country to fight poverty and build a better future.
From factory worker in Frankfurt to a bus boy in New York, millions of Greeks of the diaspora feel deep in their hearts the plight of those who are forced to leave their homeland.
We see the hospitality and humanity of Greeks in every corner where there are people who were uprooted from their homes and made the perilous journey to come to an idealized Europe to save their lives, or, perhaps seek some semblance of a future. Greek people who have very little, give to those who have nothing.
Maybe it’s that elusive trademark Greek “filotimo”, or simply an abundance of compassion.
Like in the case of the 90-year-old woman who baked a cake to give to the refugee children in the video that follows: