I’d like to congratulate the 21 refugees I met in Athens!! Somehow they could manage to escape a ruthless, deadly and dangerous homeland. Somehow they all managed to escape without getting physically damaged or swallowed by the sea, and after all, most of them are full of ideas and hope. They gave up everything they had in order to simply survive or to have a life of choices. All took the risk.
The majority left behind Afghanistan, impelled by the Taliban as I was told, some came from Bangladesh.
Most of the refugees I met in a park downtown. They have come to Greece just about two weeks ago. Here they passed time every day, but the older ones and for sure the women didn’t want me to make pictures. So I got the male youths.
I asked everyone in the park what he has brought along from his homeland, from his family, from his friends back home. „Do you have some mementos from Afganistan?“ Almost nothing! The young guy on the photo above said: „We had to throw our luggage into the sea“. The boat was too crowded. But he showed a little handmade cloth. Others just had some rings or necklaces, some still had a banknote in their pocket – with a value of a few Cent.
In this leather case there is a little Quran. I was not permitted to see or to touch it.
I met Azlan (name changed) from Afghanistan in October 2014. He was a very skinny, friendly and smart guy, after all these years and months still slashing his way through life in the nighty streets of Athens.
On the question for his personal memento he said: „Nothing. My friends. Yes, from Afghanistan.“
His friend showed his provisional allowance paper as a refugee, a paper he received four years ago in Summer 2011. – „This is the only thing I got from Greece“, he claimed.
At the fringe of Athens there is a prison for refugees that are going to be deported. The nice building you see behind the entrance is used to educate police officers. What you don’t see is the actual prison building behind.
People are waiting to visit the inmates in order to bring them food like tomatoes, salad, bananas etc. Do you see the plastic bags on the right? I was told inside the prison you get potatoes for every meal on each day. One time a week there is some meat served and one time a week an orange.
Among many others, these refugees from Bangladesh and Afghanistan were bringing food to their friends.