The world is mourning the loss of Dionysis Arvanitakis, better known as “the baker of Kos”. Arvanitakis passed away this weekend at the age of 77.
He was well-known for his acts of kindness, including his ongoing campaign to assist refugees and the most vulnerable whenever he could by offering them free bread — which he made himself.
He made a total of over 100 kilos of bread, which he distributed almost daily. He gave it out for free to the hundreds of refugees who arrived on the island, long before there was any sort of organization on the island to assist migrants.
He was awarded the “Civil Society Prize” in 2016 by the European Economic and Social Committee for his acts of humanity and charity.
Arvanitakis death touched even those in the highest seats of power. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stated “I was grieved to learn about the death of Dionysis Arvanitakis, an exemplary European citizen, who was rewarded by the European institutions for his rare genius and sensitivity to hundreds of immigrants in need.”
“My own Europe is what Dionysis Arvanitakis symbolized. Have a good trip, baker of Kos, that you gave bread every day to the hungry and troubled souls,” Juncker tweeted.
Arvanitakis grew up in the Peloponnese and migrated to Australia in 1957, where he worked in bakeries, and later moved to the island of Kos in 1970 along with his wife.
“Those that have never starved, cannot understand the position of these people. Refugees… ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ on the same island, parallel lives that converge at the notion of humanity,” he said.
The valiant baker was seemingly alluding to his belief that there is no “us and them”, and that “we as people are all one,” Arvanitakis said during an interview with Ethnos in 2015.