Maritsa Mavrapidou, who was famously photographed in October 2015 with a refugee baby together with two other ladies on the Greek island of Lesvos, has died at the age of 89.
“We welcomed refugees because we’re descended from refugees, too,” Mavrapidou told interviewers at the time. She reminded everybody that she and her family had arrived on Lesvos nearly a century ago as refugees from what was then the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey).
In 2015, at the height of the refugee crisis in Greece, when hundreds of asylum seekers and other migrants were attempting the dangerous journey fromm the Turkish coast, the three grandmothers spent months going to the shore. They offered migrants clothes from their own closets and baked homemade cheese pies for the people.
“If the newcomers got off the boat and we saw that they were seasick, we helped them,” Maritsa Mavrapidi said, speaking to the U.S.’ National Public Radio (NPR).
The photograph made the grandmothers famous worldwide. Politicians even visited them, and thanked them for their generosity. Kamvysi, who was bottle-feeding the baby in the photo, was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, something that baffles her.
“We were just behaving like human beings,” she told NPR, shaking her head.
“I remember when one young mother got off the boat and fell right into my arms,” Kamvysi said. “She just cried and cried. She understood that we loved her.”
“It’s like our mothers were there on the beach, hugging her, too,” Mavrapidou added.
Watch the video of Mavrapidou and the other ladies discussing how they helped migrants in 2015, made by Kathimerini: