In the summer of 2016 the Lon-art team travelled to Lesvos to be part of the Symbiosis Festival, an international arts festival that links cultures of the Mediterranean and approaches the refugee crisis through the arts.

When we were invited to be part of such an inspiring event, we did not think it twice, as Symbiosis represents everything we believe in and aim at as an organisation – the importance of the arts as a way to build bridges between cultures, to create social awareness and contribute to positive changes in society.

We worked mainly at Kara Tepe and Moria refugee camps in Lesvos. In the middle of the camps we set tables full of art materials. Children of all ages approached us and started drawing, painting and creating postcards. Most of the times we were overwhelmed by the interest of children in arts and in creating new things.

Day by day boredom and sadness are being pulled away by dozens of volunteers from NGO’s, musicians and art organisations that, like us, try their best to make these children’s life slightly happier.

Going to the camps and meeting people that came to Lesvos with the only purpose of dedicating their time to other people in need, made us realise how beautiful human beings can be. However, looking at the camps and reflecting on the causes of this human disaster drives you to the darkest places of the human being.

our journey in Lesbos

Children from Pipka refugee camp came to pay us a visit and enjoy our art workshops!
We ran three different workshops:
-Puppets inspired in Syrian and Greek mythology. We created puppets to re-interprete traditional stories based on Middle Eastern and Greek myths. Imagine Athena, Zeus, Atargatis and Aglibol living in the same ‘Olympus’!
-Handmade paper made out of recycling paper, workshop run by Fereniki Tsamparli
-Handmade postcards where participants wrote beautiful messages to the world!

A picture is worth a thousand words

Imagine if thousands of people could read a postcard you have written, what would your message to the world be? Participants were depicting what they thought about refugees and immigration on postcards and refugees sent the messages out of the camp. The results were most of the times shocking and heartbreaking.

We have done the same workshops in London in many other occasions, but had never thought how different this workshop could be in a refugee camp. Participants found in these postcards a powerful way to denounce to the world their desperate situation.

We discovered that this was an amazing medium for children and teenagers to express their experiences in the refugee camps. Refugees think that the rest of the world doesn’t care, and they are partially right. We wanted people to get actively involved and empathise with the desperate situation of hundreds of children and teenagers claiming to have a normal life.

One of our projects at Symbiosis Festival was to make a mosaic as a memorial to the current Refugee Crisis. For the location, we chose Eressos, a nice village in Lesbos with a very open-minded community. This meant most of the locals celebrated having our mosaic, although we were aware that it could have easily arisen controversy too, as not everybody feels the same way about refugees.
Our mosaic aimed to create a strong image to remember the tons of families who are putting their lives in danger, running away from their countries in conflict. Because the sad truth is that, in a war context, crossing the Mediterranean Sea on a boat to end up in a refugee camp is safer than staying home.

We believe that the refugee crisis and humanitarian disaster we are witnessing cannot be forgotten or erased from our history. And thus we wanted to leave a long-lasting print.


with special thanks...

This projects wouldn’t have been possible without the support and love of:

Our donors, who made this possible with their donations

Local children and adults who contributed in the making and cleaning of the mosaic.

Adonis Restaurant in Eressos, where the mosaic is, and its owner Niko, who fed us and took care of us while making the mosaic.

-The volunteers: Mel, Mari, Sophie Piyi

-Special thanks to Miranda Lathouras, who designed and directed the making of the mosaic.

And the Symbiosis team, for offering us to be part of this beautiful project. Symbiosis is the best example to prove that you can bring people together through the arts and also that art is a unique way to express feelings and opinions.