Life on the island of Lesvos: Women’s voices

While we were on Lesvos Island, we spoke with some women about how life has been since they arrived in Greece. We heard stories of long journeys to reach safety and daily struggles in the camp, but we were also inspired by their resilience in the face of these challenges. Let’s applaud these women, and others across Greece for their admirable strength. 👏💪

Here are some of their stories. Names have been changed.


“I tried five times to reach the Greek islands. On the fourth try, the boat sank. I tried again and again in order to reach Greece and then Belgium to reunite with my children.

Back in Baghdad I was a housewife. If I manage to reach Belgium, I am willing to work because I want to support my children. My son is about to get married and I want to be there! I want to see all my children, to be together and have their own families.

In Moria, everyone loves me because I dance, I cook and share my food. We had a party for my birthday and we all gathered in my tent to dance and celebrate. This is the way to survive. We give each other strength.” - Suha, Iraq


“Our journey to Greece was extremely difficult. We were crossing the forests of Turkey for four hours. My daughter fell and broke her hand. Then, we were on the boat for three hours.

I was searching for a safe place for my children and we found one here on this island in Kara Tepe. I really hope I can join my son in Athens so my family can stay together.

From Athens, we would like to move on to somewhere where our children can study and progress.” - Hanan, Iraq


“The most important thing for me is that we escaped war. It doesn’t matter where we are. For seven years, we have been listening to bombshells. We are safe here in Lesvos and we are happy for that.” - Siham, Syria


“If I knew that we would face these conditions, I would have stayed in Syria. In Moria, my husband stopped talking and he was always angry. My daughter was getting lost in the camp and I would look for her for hours. When there were fights outside, I had to strengthen my heart and leave my tent to go to the toilet. It was a nightmare. It changed us.

In Kara Tepe Camp, I have privacy, I can speak with my husband, I can change my clothes. I consider my container… my home.

I have sisters living in Germany. I wish to reunite with them, learn the language and find a job there in make-up, hairdressing or sewing.” - Anin el Hazen, Syria


“I came to Greece with my two aunts. One went back to Zimbabwe, with her two kids, after a year of waiting on Lesvos and one is in Athens with her daughter, so I am here alone now.

When I had my first interview, in February 2017, I did not have my documents and they didn’t believe I was a minor. They just looked at me and said you are not a minor. Maybe because I have a big body.

I spent the whole winter, with the snow, in a tent in Moria. It was the first time we had seen snow.

When my asylum application was rejected for a second time I was imprisoned for two months. It was very difficult. I had nothing to do all day so I was reading a lot of novels and writing. I even read the whole Bible.

I am hoping that I will not be returned to Turkey because I have integrated here. I want to stay in Mytilene, Lesvos. I want to be an accountant.” - Cheryl, Zimbabwe


“When I arrived in Lesvos and had my first interview, I was in shock. I could not remember anything… why was I here, how did I make it here.

I am spending my best years in an Isobox… years that I could spend studying while my mind is fresh.

I wish to study, to achieve my goals and do something good for me and my family. ” - Sara, Afghanistan