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Pope Francis

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This 82-year-old Greek grandmother welcomes refugees into her home in Idomeni

2016-04-11

While Macedonian police crosses the borders and gasses refugees in Greece, she receives them like this, with kisses and hugs.

Panagiota Vasileiadou is 82 and lives in Idomeni, a village with just 150 inhabitants, that has seen one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies of recent decades, taking place at her doorstep.

Every day, she sets the table for this family of refugees from Iraq.

BARAA
Iraqi refugee
"This old woman made our lives easier. I thank her so much and she represents the Greek people and what Greece stands for.” 

But they are not the only ones. She has seen hundreds of them and has given them food, clothing and what little she can buy on a pension with the equivalent of about 450 dollars a month.

PANAGIOTA VASILEIADOU
"Sometimes I made cheese pies, eggs, sandwiches. Five, ten, fifteen (people) would pass by and I gave them.”

She knows very well what its like to be left with nothing. She is also the daughter of refugees and lost everything during World War II.

PANAGIOTA VASILEIADOU
"I was seven years old when our house was burned down. We didn’t have a spoon, fork, bread or clothes. The only thing we had left were the nightgowns we were wearing. Five children. No clothes, nothing.” 

They speak Arabic and she speaks Greek. Although they spend hours together, barely able to communicate, they manage to understand each other with the universal language of solidarity, which knows no borders.


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