Spreading the Word on Lesvos

Syndesmos leaves Strong Impressions on Lesvos

September 2010

Following his ten-week holiday in Greece, Syndesmos Co-ordinator, Vasilios Vasilas, returned to Australia- with highly favourable news on the website's further developments and progress. 

With Vasilios' recent publication, "Journeys of Uncertainty and Hope", and photo- exhibition in Mytilene, "Our Journey", it was the perfect opportunity to promote Syndesmos on Lesvos itself. 


Above: Two photographs taken at the recent exhibition, "Our Journey". On the left is Vasilios handing the Mayor of Mytilene, Nasos Giakalis a copy of "Journeys of Uncertainty and Hope" and on the right is Mytilene's maestro, Nikos Tsirigotis, addressing the crowd. 

Throughout July, Vasilios visited several villages such as Agia Paraskevi and Plomari, as well as Mytilene, to interview former Lesvian residents of Australia.

"It was an insightful experience to listen to migrants who have returned to Lesvos, as they talked about their experiences of re-adjustment  and re-settlement", explained Vasilios. "It offered another view to overall migrant experience.". 

During his journey across Lesvos, Vasilios was able to visit several government representatives to present them a copy of his publication and to promote the website. He visited the Prefect of Lesvos prefecture, Pavlos Vogiatzis, Mayor of Mytilene, Athanasios Giakalis, Mayor of Agia Paraskevi (and Napi), Georgios Kyriazis, and Mayor of Agiassos, Chrysanthos Hatzipanagiotou. He was also hosted at Agiassos' Anagnostirio Cltural Centre by Kleanthis Koromilas.  


Above: Vasilios Vasilas with the Prefect of Lesvos, Pavlos Vogiatzis.  

Vasilios work on Lesvos culminated with the photo-exhibition, "Our Journey", in Mytilene which was well- received by respective cultural groups' representatives, local media and residents.

"I believe all the work that is being done- whether it is the website, exhibition or publication- took Lesvos by 'surprise'; they could not believe someone (on the other side of the world) would initiate such a program to document the expereinces of Lesvian migrants,"explained Vasilios.

"It was well received and appreciated by Lesvos because the Lesvian migrant story has not been told (on this scale), and it sparked a lot of interest. The reality is it received strong media exposure such as on television, ERT and Mytilene TV, and newspapers, Dimokratis, Dimokratis Lesvos, Empros, Ta Nea tis Lesvou and Politis, all contributed to generating the promotion and exposure needed to spread our concept."

One point Vasilios stressed throughout his travels and visits is Syndesmos will continue  for many years to come as the documentation of Lesvian migrants will expand to other cities of Australia and other nations.


Above: Vasilios with the Mayor of Agia Paraskevi, Heorgios Kyriazis (left), and the Mayor of Agiassos, Chrysanthos Chatzipanagiotis, and President of the Anagnostirio Cultural centre, Kleanthis Koromilas (right).  

Vasilios thanked all the people who hosted throughout the island: Mary Tremoulas (in Agia Paraskevi), Irodotos and Mary Hatzifotis (in Agiassos), Doukas and Mary Tradallis (in Plomari), Nikos Tsirigotis (in Mytilene) and, Mihail and Eleni Papahatzis (in Mytilene). A special thank you also goes to Mytilene Municipal Council and its Mayor for holding the photo-exhibition. Lastly, the person who initiated the proposal to bring the photo-exhibition to Mytilene was Nikos Tsirigotis.

"As my work and I were relatively unknown on Lesvos, I was extremely lucky that I had Nikos in Mytilene; he was my secretary, public relations officer, hotelier, tour guide... he basically did it all (laughs)," explained. Vasilios. 

"In all seriousness, it was an enormous task for him to have organised all the promotion and the event itself. For instance, I would turn up at the Dimotiko Theatro and a journalist would be waiting for me for an interview. Having Niko supporting the event made everything so much easier."