“Migratory Birds”: The Voice of Refugee and Immigrant Children in Greece

It takes a great deal of dedication and stamina to run a newspaper, no matter who you are — but this is especially true if you are an Afghan woman living in Greece, after having to flee your country because of war and poverty.

Yet, if you have fourteen teenage Afghan girls with ideas like yours, with the same dedication and dreams of forging a better life in a totally different culture, then it is indeed possible.

This is how the newspaper called Migratory Birds was born. Against all odds, the idea for the publication was conceived inside a tent in a refugee camp in Greece.

Migratory Birds operates with support from the UN’s High Commission for Refugees as well as the City of Athens. It also receives a great deal of assistance from the major Greek daily Efimerida ton Syntakton.

Mahdia Hosseini, 28, is the editor-in-chief of Migratory Birds, which boasts a bimonthly circulation of 13,000. The paper is one of the only refugee-led initiatives in Greece which is still in operation.

Albanian-Greek journalist Denisa Bajraktari, 28, serves as the supervisor of the refugee newspaper project.

The Migratory Birds paper, along with a web radio program called “Dandelion,” was created by the “Network for Children’s Rights,” a Greek NGO, as a means of facilitating the assimilation of refugee and immigrant children. But the aim of the newspaper is also clearly to fight xenophobia.

The name of the publication comes from the birds which fly each year to places where they feel happy and can thrive.

The articles in the newspaper and on the web radio broadcasts are produced solely by teenage immigrants, including refugees as well as Greek natives, with the support of the Network. They are written in Greek, English, Farsi, Arab and Urdu.

Through the newspaper, the Network aims to put across the principles and values of journalism, to promote cross-cultural dialogue, and to help children exercise their basic human rights, such as the freedom of opinion and expression.

Migratory Birds welcomes contributors of any ethnic origin or religion. Even those who have no grasp of a written language can still contribute, by taking photographs for the paper.

The newspaper includes reports on the life of refugees and immigrants, and the personal insights of migrants and refugees living in a new land, as well as poems, recipes for traditional foods, and advice on ethnic eateries.

All prospective articles for Migratory Birds are sent to Efimerida ton Syntakton for a final once-over. A separate eight-page Migratory Birds section is subsequently printed and then placed inside the daily newspaper.