Î‘ sweet autumn morning of Septemberâ€¦ 11:00 am.
REACT teamÂ had the chance to visit Ahmed’s family, the first Syrian family who is going to be hosted by the YMCA- Thessaloniki.Â I arrived to Sikies town to join the rest of the team; Myrto, Ismini, Kostis and Issa wearing their YMCA-React blue t-shirts. While looking around to identify the house number, we noticed a family with three kids almost â€œswingingâ€ from the balcony, eagerly waiting to meet the new friends. They waved to us with a shy smile. Before even our interpretor greeted them and asked the permission to go up, the kids have been already down on the road. They ran to our arms. Their eyes spoke of a seven-month surviving journey on the border. Then, Omar shook my hand with the innocent confidence of a little gentleman in his early adolescence. His sister Safa, excited, led the team upstairs to the apartment as if she knew us for a long time.
The mother was waiting at the door to welcome us with a big smile. She has a round young face and big Middle Eastern beautiful eyes. She wore a nice coloured traditional hijab, it is a veil traditionally worn by Muslim women in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the head and chest. Most often, it is as a symbol of modesty and privacy. Behind her was the father, a man in his middle forties. His face and welcoming smile witnessed the pain of a father who has left another three older children behind in Syria because he couldn’t afford to save all his family members. We removed our shoes and entered the living room. We offered a box of Greek sweets to the mother.Â Later on, mother returned from the kitchen with the traditional welcoming treat, a cup of hot sweet tea.Â And here is the beginningâ€¦! the beginning of REACT programmeâ€¦ the beginning of a new hope for this family, but the continuation of the YMCA refugee support.
As the car moved away, I felt that I lived a historic moment.
Today, the father, mother, Omar, Safa and Yehya walked up the stairs at the YMCA- Thessaloniki. The children offered us some roses while firmly hugging us. We welcomed them with Mrs. Aristi Tzoni- head of our department, guided them in a tour in the building departments and sport facilities. We played and painted all together. The mother, passionate about birds, sketched a pigeon that we hung it above the blackboard. We saw the calendar: TodayÂ September 21th. The International Day of Peace. The first day of Omar, Safa and Yahya at YMCA.
AnnaÂ Magdalini Argyri