I hadn't seen Elena in while, I have been trying to follow up with her work but she is always on the go, developing new projects, travelling, building communities and helping people. Earlier in the year, we were lucky enough, time wise, to be both in Thessaloniki. What was supposed to be a catch up over coffee, ended up being an entry for me to this community, that Elena has been part of, for a while now.
It's so different to just read or hear stories, to actually meeting the people, put names on the faces, learn more about them, figure out their personalities. Stories about people drowning in the Mediterranean sea, trying to survive attacks, war zones and bravely starting a journey to the unknown, with the hope of a better life. They are just like you and me, with dreams, memories, and hopes for the future, with the only difference that they are fighting for the life, everyday. With the difference that they have no home to go back to, no jobs, no security. With the difference that they can't complain about being bored of their daily routine like most of us do. They take nothing for granted, everyday brings another challenge. Sometimes all they want is to sing, write, create, play. They don't want to be crossing borders illegally, they would rather spend a day at the beach with their family. They have no option, they didn't choose that lifestyle. They want to feel safe again, they want a better life for their children, for themselves, they are just humans, like you and me, trying to live.
Going back to Elena, she is now working on this amazing project, called Play is Hope, an international project aiming to build communities through performance with the help of locals, immigrants, and refugees. We are all in this together regardless the labels we or they put. This project is fully supported financially by individuals and you can find out more here . Please support in any way you can whether that is by donations or spreading the word, every action, whether is a Facebook share, a small donation or talking about it with a friend helps. When the Greek governmental bodies fined Safe Passage Bags, a non for profit initiative at Pikpa Camp in Lesvos, that teaches refugees how to make bags using life jackets that have been abandoned at greek beaches, 50.000 euros, for not following employment and tax rules, not realising that this is not a regular business, it's very clear that only us, you and me can make a difference, by helping in any way we can. Close borders, exploitation, racism, and I wonder when will we remember that we are human beings, that they are human beings? We are no better, we could be them.
One of Play is Hope's projects, Dialogues Across Borders runs workshops this week at Tate Modern, as part of Who Are We? programme at Tate Exchange. Go and meet the amazing people that are changing lives.
Act! Lena Altinoglou said at the workshop yesterday, we need more actions and less chats.
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