Efstratia Mavrapidou, one of the three famous grandmothers of Lesvos, has died at the age of 96.
The three grandmothers became a symbol of solidarity with refugees in 2015 when they offered to feed and comfort a refugee baby and give respite to a Syrian mother who fled the war and arrived on the island by boat in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.
Grandmothers, who every day sat on a village bench, told reporters a story: they suddenly heard a child crying. His mother held him in her arms, trying to bottle feed him. Her clothes were wet, the baby didn’t want milk.
“Hey, girl, bring the baby, I’ll feed him,” one of them said to her mother in Greek, which she did not understand. But the expression on the grandmother’s face and the accompanying gesture were very clear and overcame the language barrier. Milica (Aimiliya) took a month-old boy in her arms, gave him a bottle, and together with her friends began to sing a lullaby.
“I checked the bottle with my hand, the milk was too hot. Since there was a fountain nearby, I cooled the milk, ”grandmother Maritsa said then. The rest is history…
The three women continued to do the same for a long time, offering whatever they could to the refugees as their village of Sikamiya became the focus of refugees and a humanitarian crisis.
Documentary film from Katimerini from 2016.
The photo “Three grandmothers and a refugee child” made a splash all over the world, and in 2016 it was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. One of the three grandmothers, Eftratia’s cousin Maritza Mavrapidou, passed away at the age of 89 in January 2019. Both Maritza and Ethixia have a third grandmother, Emilia Camvisi, who is now 92 years old. All three women were children of Greek refugee families from Asia Minor.
The “Grandmothers of Lesvos” was visited and honored in November 2015 by the then President of the Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, and on August 15, 2020, by the President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
Lefteris Partsalisthe photographer who took the symbolic photo in October 2015, said in an interview about the intensity of the moment:
“Father stood next to the stairs, grandmothers sat there every day. As soon as they saw the crying baby, they wanted to take matters into their own hands. They gave us this wonderful moment. It was a ray of light in the darkness that our eyes have seen these days. Grandmothers sang to the baby, they always talked to him so that he would stop crying, and then this bottle of milk … Grandmothers left this legacy.