Tracing the footsteps: A diary of the project IV: “Portraits-2, Thessaloniki”

The four part of the travelogue by Özge Çelikaslan and Alper Şen of Artıkişler Collective is entitled “Portraits-2, Thessaloniki”. It includes the stories and narratives of migrants living in “Solidarity house”, an old house in Thessaloniki built by the Ottomans that was occupied by anarchist groups in order to establish a residency for migrants. In “Solidarity house" the residents are living and working collectively. “Portraits-2, Thessaloniki” is a collection of comments from a conversation Özge Çelikaslan and Alper Şen had with Natalia, a member of “Solidarity house”:
“Natalia: We live here with solidarity”

“The migrants are in a jam here, they are pushed and they can’t go any other country than Greece. They give temporary permits only for 2-3 months in Greece, and this is not enough for nothing.” I don’t know how many, may be more than ten thousand. Migrants live here under bad conditions in the camps. Most of them are facing to death on the boats while they are coming. Some have lost their lives.”

“The Greek government should make a serious program. Many kids here need education. People need jobs. Most of them are training in their own professions. We live here in solidarity. Everyone has a different occupation. From cleaning the house to cooking, everyone has different duties and we do the works together. For none of us have a work permit its impossible to work. There are aids coming usually from the neighbours or different organizations. When someone has money he tries to buy something for his family or for the house. We try not to keep the families with babies here. We try them to stay in the houses by getting support from the Greek families. For example a family with a 6 days old baby came here. We placed them in a house.”

“A friend of mine from Germany was working in the solidarity house kitchens in Greece, I came due to his invitation. We live in rough times but Greeks (not the government) are supporting our works. It’s a weird situation here. People are not coming to Greece to live here, that’s why they’re in a jam.”

“I am a migrant too but maybe my situation is better than these people here. Because I can go back to my country. Ukraine is a country in Europe. But still even if I go back to home I will be faced with war anyway. Even if there is no formal war there is an occupation and I can’t enter my homeland. Since Ukraine government did not officially declared war I can’t apply for asylum to Greece. I can’t receive a visa either.”

“We know that there is a Syrian war but there are hundred of thousands of people are migrating. Not every country are in a war. People have many other problems, they live under political or religious pressure. They have economical, political problems. They are coming to other countries for freedom. Many people die on the road. Many people even take the risk of death of their kids. A young one of 20 years old received electric shock while passing the border and disabled permanently. This makes a business for smugglers. Smuggling someone for money is something only bad people can do.”

“I live here with my nine years old daughter Malia. Its a big experience for her too, she loves here, there are people from many cultures and its a process of learning, besides we have 3 dogs, she plays with them. She does things with us. There are another families with kids here or mothers and fathers who can not see their kids, they fulfil their longings with Malia.”

“I don’t know what will happen in the future. Actually nobody knows. We can’t even think of it now. There is no future plan, how can be done a future plan in these circumstances. Do you have a future plan for example?”



The series of diaries entitled "Portraits" will be continued…

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Author: ACTOPOLIS
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