Refugee Stories

You don’t need a common language to understand the needs of others.



© UNHCR / Achilleas Zavallis

Panagiota speaks Greek. The refugees she helps speak Arabic. Neither understands a word the other says …

Yet this 82-year-old woman knows exactly how to help them on their journey to safety.

A hug and a smile, a hot shower and a warm meal. These acts of kindness have a tremendous impact on those who have lost their homes, their livelihoods and so much more.

Panagiota knows what it’s like to only have the clothes on her back. She was a young child when her family lost their home in the Second World War. Now, she cares for five refugees who live with her, and many others who pass through.

In Panagiota’s home, the healing and help run both ways. The refugees have given Panagiota something less tangible, but just as transformational.

“My life changed because I have company in the house, that’s it, nothing else … I talk, we laugh, even though we can’t understand each other,” she said.

In this tiny house in Greece, actions speak louder than words – the love for one another is genuine. To Panagiota, the refugees are family now, and she promises to help them for as long as she can.


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Jun 1 2016
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