Kara Tepe, Lesvos, Greece.
The last day on the island of Lesvos was unlike any other.
We spent the day in the village of Kara Tepe, where residents that come from all walks of life, creeds, and cultures are encouraged to come together as equals and celebrate their cultures collaboratively.
As many of these refugees walk this journey due to a divisive inequality and hatred, Kara Tepe offers a means to bring people together as one humanity under God with love and harmony.
Stavros Mirogiannis, director of Kara Tepe, met with us before he allowed us to walk throughout his camp.
His monologue was inspiring.
He instilled the power of our craft as journalists and how important it was to uphold strong ethical values of integrity and moral uprightness in delivering the stories we received from the refugees.
Mirogiannis spoke of freedom, democracy, dignity, respect.
He reminded us of duty and responsibility.
Saying “to speak with your eyes and your soul and that if we don't know our responsibility to humanity we don't have rights.”
He was a man of his words, because the people of Kara Tepe carried themselves as such.
Children walked up to us eager to make conversation and curious about our photography equipment.
Women allowed other women into their learning spaces and allowed us to record them.
A Syrian family made us flat bread over an open stove.
We were welcomed.
Due to my subject matter I asked about places of worship or any respective opportunities for such and was amazed by our guide’s answer. A firm “no.” Followed by “we don’t have any of that here and even when people ask, Stavros reminds them to look up.” I whipped out my favorite word in the English language, “why?” Our guide retorted with “Stavros says because God is all around you. You don’t need a place to talk to Him. There is only One and He is the one we all choose to worship.” A smile spread across my face.
This man was right and I was in awe.
Stavros Mirogiannis was a hero in my eyes.
Not only was he right, but he was implementing the power of these beliefs to unify people of crisis at Kara Tepe. Every Friday night, the Arabs and the Africans and any other culture meets in the Kara Tepe theatre to come together as one group for some fun.
They all take turns learning African dances, and then line up to do the Dabke (Arabic dances), and putting on plays or watching movies together. Compassion, understanding, promotion of love and unity and a safe bond were all themes of Kara Tepe. Themes that as Americans we often overlook due to our availability to privilege.