Big Crowd Turns Up for Book on Lesvos

"Our Homeland: Lesvos" is Released 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Despite the cool winter's night, and State Origin Rugby League being played, over two hundred people turned up at the Mytilenian House to welcome Vasilis Vasilas' second book, "Our Homeland: Lesvos".

Like last year's Launch for "Journeys of Uncertainty and Hope", this Launch was also well organised and interesting. Sticking to last year's successful formula, the Launch consisted of two guest speakers from within the book itself. Sydney's famous journalist, Giorgos Tserdanis, provided the audience with an insightful look at growing up in Mytilene during the 1950s and capped off his talk with a beautiful personal poem on Mytilene. Following Giorgos Tserdanis, Australian-born, Manuel Halacas, recounted his family's holiday trip to Paleohori in 1955 and provided the audience many often-hilarious anecdotes of a ten-year-old Australian's perspective on village life on Lesvos. 


Above: Associate Professor, Vrasidas Karalis (left) and Vasilis Vasilas (right). 

Other speakers included Mytilenian Brotherhood of Sydney (NSW), Stavros Kritikos, Honorary President of the Mytilenian Brotherhood of Sydney (NSW), Chris Christogeorge, and the Consul General of the Hellenic Republic, Vassilios Tolios.

The main speaker of the evening was Associate Professor, Vrasidas Karalis, of the Department of Modern Greek at the University of Sydney. In his speech. In his speech, he highlighted how Vasilas' work is becoming an important work; not only from the stories but also photographs. Some of the photographs in this book were very rare and probably published for the for the first time. 


Above: Giorgos Tserdanis (left) and Consul General of the Hellenic Republic, Bassilios Tolios (right). 

Vasilis Vasilas explained why he published on a book on Lesvos, and how this book truly belonged to the history of Australia, "I want to emphasise this book focuses on the Greece these migrant left behind; the stories and memories, and photographs, all belong to Lesvians of Australia. I want to re-evaluate our thinking to understand these stories and photographs now belong here, in Australia; they are part of the natural progression of the migrants’ journey. They provide the background  necessary to understand these Lesvians. This book looks at what the migrants left behind- history, schooling, work and culture- and forthcoming books will look at their balancing act of maintaining this homeland and integrating within their adopted homeland of Australia. Although this book’s main focus is on Lesvos, and the events were experienced on our island, the irony is the book is enriching our identity here in Australia." 


Above: Special Presentations to Sponsors (left) and Sydney's Lesvian Groups (right). 

In his speech, Vasilas emphaised the importance of the sponsors in raising some of the funds for printing costs; he ackowledged Georgios Christou and Cleo Antoniou from the main sponsor, Premier Northpak, and major sponsors,  Michael Saraya of Advance Commercial Kitchens, and, Sotiris and Vicki Phylactou of a M and J Chickens. He thanked on-going sponsors: Georgios Giannaros of European Window Systems; Louie and Georgios Papadakis of Maroubra Building Supplies; and Jim Papanagiotou of Intercolonial Tyre Service and welcomed new sponsors: Sakis Georgoulas of Sweet Fantasy; Peter and Ellen Panagis of Glades Motor Inn; Tony Vasilas of Automatic Garage Doors; Nick Tsavalas of Nick Tsavalas Accountants and Associates; Bilal Afiouny of ABW Foods; Dennis Goumis of All Smart Kitchens; Michael Mihailides and Maria Dimitratos of Icon Eyewear; Angelo Karavelatzis of C Side Restaurant; Michael Christodoulou of the Cyprus Community Club, Evangelos Glinellis of YCC Poultry; Periklis, Georgios, Moesis and Marios  Pericleous of Pelopidas Catering; Gary Georgio of Safari Firearms; and David Demertjis of DJC Furniture and Bedding. He also paid tribute to Giorgos Kefalas for his outstanding work in gathering the sponsorships. It should be noted the Antissian Association of NSW gave a generous donation to Vasilas on the night. 


Above and Above Right: The new book definitely generated a lot of interest for everyone. 

There were special presentations made to the sponsors, as well as the four Lesvian groups in Sydney: representing the respective groups were Stavros Kritikos of Mytilenian Brotherhood of Sydney; John Loukadellis of the Antissian Association of NSW; Peter Malamas of the Paleohorion Brotherhood of Sydney and Giorgos Savvas of the Progreesive Community of Agiassos. 

Concluding his speech, Vasilas emphasised his work on Lesvian migration will continue.

 All photographs courtesy of Meropy Konitsas

 For more Photographs: Photo Gallery