The Face of Kindness - Welcoming Refugees in Lesbos, Greece

People fleeing war and persecution still have dreams, ideas, ambitions and experiences, just like all of us. Latest UN figures show there are now over 70 million people forcibly displaced around the world. This World Refugee Day, we're highlighting how refugees are working to rebuild their lives, while also helping develop their host communities.

For Lena, a Greek native, the most important thing is to bring people together. That’s why she has opened “Nan Restaurant” with three other local women, a restaurant on the Greek island of Lesbos. She wants people “to create, to cook together, to share ideas, talents, recipes, tastes, aromas.”

Her final goal? “To prove that they can coexist and create something new together," she says.

The food at “Nan” is simply delicious – but that is only one reason why people come here.

“Nan” is not only a restaurant, it is also a place where local Greeks and people from other places meet, cook together, share ideas for recipes, and prove that they can create something special with each other.

“We are one family,” says Abdul, one of the chefs from Pakistan.

Lena’s initiative is one of the many examples of Greek entrepreneurs in Lesbos, who – together with volunteers from all over Europe and with refugees – create and sustain a friendly, active and kind community. A community, which is a mosaic of diverse groups and individuals who work, learn and exchange, while getting to know and appreciate one another.

The importance of sharing experiences

The belief that sharing experiences will bring people closer together is what local parents had in mind when they set up Mikros Dounias.

They created an educational space where local and refugee children play and learn together in the small forest of PIKPA refugee camp, run with the contribution of the organization Lesvos Solidarity.

The learning process is organized collectively, respecting the needs and desires of each person and encouraging inclusion, freedom of choice and self-regulation. When building tree houses, taking turns on the swing and listening to campfire stories, they have an important learning experience: how values such as love, hospitality and kindness are universal – no matter where you come from.

A safe place for women

The Bashira Center for Displaced Women is built on a similar foundation: here, women from Greece and from all over Europe are providing a safe haven for women who were forced to flee their countries. Their journeys have been very different, but at Bashira, they become sisters.

Initiatives like these ones on the edge of Europe can be found everywhere on the continent. With often only small contributions, the people in Lesbos and beyond display the best of Europe – a Europe we can be proud of. They show us that something special happens when ordinary people come together and are simply kind to each other.

The power of kindness

There are many faces of kindness all over Europe. On this World Refugee Day, we invite you to share your own experiences of kindness.

This entry posted on 19 June 2019, by Marion Bouchetel, Advocacy Officer for Oxfam in Greece.

Photo: Lena, owner of Nan Restaurant, Lesbos, Greece. Credit: Oxfam

Oxfam would like to thank the organizations which kindly contributed to the realization of this video. Oxfam is not supporting the initiatives highlighted in the video with any financial means. The purpose of the video is to merely highlight initiatives in Lesbos working around the important values of solidarity, kindness, community sense and resilience. For more information about these initiatives, please visit:



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