My eyes will remember the cold nights in Idomeni….my heart will stay warm from the refugees hugs …my mind will follow them on their journey …and my life will never be the same …

KIMON SAPNAS :: 42 :: Greece

I knew Nothing before arriving. Then I visited for the first time in September 2015 at Idomeni, October in Mitilini Lesvos (and I returned four times more). Some of my friends reactions were negative. My family was divided mostly through worry, but some of them visited with me on my first trip. My girlfriend actually went to Mytilini on her own.

I learned that To Share is to care and that there are no heroes (among volunteers) and no poor refugees… we are all humans and brothers…and all we need is respect.

Returning back to ‘normality’ was and still is very difficult. It is as if I was in ‘the matrix’ movie in another reality. Also I’ve felt the loss of a lot of friends that didn’t agree with my actions for the refugees. I remember an old man in a wheelchair that was helped by his son and his daughter in a rainy night during November, when the Idomeni borders were opened I was smoking a cigarette, I was wet and frustrated that I couldn’t help them.

I will always keep with me the love and respect of the refugees. Instead of hating us (Europeans) for creating this hell during their trip to freedom, they are giving us so much love.

I will also keep the strength of volunteers to overcome all difficulties and stay and assist the refugees.

My eyes will remember the cold nights in Idomeni….my heart will stay warm from the refugees hugs …my mind will follow them on their journey …and my life will never be the same …


Memories :: Landscapes Emotions and Humans

Idomeni – September 2015

Rail lines of a train leading to Neverland. Train tracks of hope that follow the steps of thousands.

Borders in a place that begins to write history.

Idomeni … In a mountain, nowhere.

Uncomplaining myriad souls marching.


And fellow humans in makeshift tables who offer their souls, a bottle of water, food, a smile.

Despair. For the first time in my life, I felt it.

People coming towards us for food and we all say: “It’s getting dark, no more will come”

Nighttime has come and the food is finished, but not the people.

I feel my legs bend.

Despair. I want to cry but I cannot when I see them looking at us, smiling.

Evelina and Vassilis are calm, they open two jars of homemade marmalade and we start spreading it onto slices of toast. In the morning we continue to offer a slice of toast with marmalade and a bottle of water.

At dawn Vassilis offers me a coffee and he tells me stories of the locals that have been helping for months away from the spotlights of the media.


October – Idomeni

The first tents are placed, there is even a medical unit.

The buses come directly to the site and thousands of people try to maintain their dignity on the road to their “Ithaca”.

Night comes …and when it is dark there are only volunteers.

The NGOs’ working hours are over and we are alone.

To welcome them from the buses. To put them in the tents to rest. To give them clothes.  To give them food.

You know it is not difficult to give a little more food or chocolate to a child that is wet and shivering from the cold.

Difficult, is to deny the extra food because you know well that you have not enough for everyone.

And when they insist with his eyes fixed upon you and you have to turn them away.


For the institutions that closed their eyes.

For the NGOs that came at 10:00 and asked us if we wanted any help after we had been there 14 hours straight distributing aid.

Anger because I was at the last tent and coordinated the passage of people to Skopje.

Me,  a simple man.

And with the bus drivers pushing to do it fast so they could load more caravans of souls.

And with the authorities pushing to get rid of them.

Pouring rain, my last cigarette extinguished and a refugee gave me his own.

Inside the tents for hours the distribution continues without us talking among ourselves without us knowing each other.

And in the end we met … Stefanos … Xristina … Dimitris … Marios ….


November – Skala Sykaminia

A coastal village in the north part of Mytilini.

A few houses, 2-3 cafes, one restaurant, one beach.

It’s raining, I had heard of a makeshift kitchen.

I walk the promenade and observe torn inflatable boats.

I meet a van with a medical label in English, 1-2 tents and a makeshift kitchen.

The humidity exceeds curiosity, intensity, any feeling (yet).

People begin to gather; they greet me and we begin to clean, picking up the wet clothes all together as a hive.

And suddenly a voice is heard: BOAT

There are no words to describe how you feel …

A terrible black out of emotions with full alertness.

All together to pulling out the boat, “Children First” someone else shouts.

Someone gives me a baby and I “freeze” . I hold it high and feel like its the birth of my daughter again.

Night time. It’s dark. I’m alone. I cannot tear myself away from the beach. I do not feel the humidity anymore.

Suddenly in the darkness I hear voices in Arabic.  Voices that still haunt me until today.

I run. People gather. We pull out the boat. The cafe opens its doors and takes in people of solidarity and refugees.

Someone translates that a baby fell into the sea . He will never be found.

A friend from Malaysia says:

“To be honest, I wish I do not have feelings sometimes, it hurts. It hurts so much … “

Rayyan from Malaysia,  the always smiling cook, Maria from the US, Apostolis who was a native, as well as Panos with his dog Rosa who was the first to run to the boats, Ioannis from Athens, Kelly who gave me his shoes because my own got wet, Virginia and so many others (Sorry for not mentioning them). We shared pain and joy, Michael the doctor from South Africa who approched me one day when I was sitting alone and sad in the rain, smoking a cigarette, came and gave me a sandwich and just looked at me.

December – Idomeni

Barbered wire. Closed borders. Police and special forces on the one side, the army from the other.

Tents and containers of NGOs. And at one end the so-called “Ghetto” for the “dangerous refugees.”

In the Ghetto, as a Gallic village between the Romans, a green tent.

Thousands of people stranded in the cold, in small camping tents burning their jackets at night to keep warm and asking us when they will open the border.

Some pass the border and some do not.

They all suffer.

With my loyal and resourceful friend  Othona (who puts up with my moaning and terrible music in my car) we head to the green tent. “No Borders”, it says outside.

We get to know Pixie from Bosnia, Jordi the Catalan, Martina and Lea from Germany. They were in the camp in Presevo Serbia and came to Idomeni.

We have a kitchen they told me, 24 hours open, with tea and soup because the money is little, but we will stay here. We cook here, we’ll sleep here. Field Rats.

They look at me, they do not give me instructions, I get a dirty pot and I go 800 meters away to wash it in taps with cold water … and then another … and yet another …

The hours pass, it gets dark, it gets cold, frosty air. The refugees light fires.

We are tired but Pixie tells me come. We sit together, Volunteers and refugees.

We share our cigarettes. We hear music from our mobile phones at first. We share the cold.

We talk about our families. We address each other as brotherrs . We are one.

Idomeni, as I knew it, will die, with the blood of the first dead a few days later.

My journey has changed my life.

The people with whom I shared these moments will forever be my brothers.