Papa Stratis from Kallonili Village of Lesbos Island turned Lesbos into a home for refugees with the contributions he made. Papa Stratis passed away on September 2; the same day that Aylan passed away, who put the refugee problem into world’s agenda again with the photograph of his dead body lying on the shore.
Lesbos Island has been a gateway for Middle Eastern people who want to immigrate to Europe for many years. Today, in Lesbos, which has been used by hundreds of thousand refugees for going to west, you can came across tens of thousands Syrian refugees. So, it can be said that Lesbos locals are accustomed to have refugees in the island.
A priest from Kallonili Village on Lesbos Island, Papa Stratis, turned Lesbos into a home for refugees with the contributions he made. “What I see is people in need. I cannot turn them away, nor can I kick them, nor imprison them. I cannot send them back to where they came from. Nor can I throw them into the sea to drown.” In 2007, Stratis established an association called Aggalia (embrace) and with the locals who want to help refugees like him, he provided food, cloth and accommodation to the immigrants.
Helping refugees regardless of their language, religion, ethnicity and gender since 2007, Papa Stratis passed away on September 2; the same day that Aylan passed away, who put the refugee problem into world’s agenda again with the photograph of his dead body lying on the shore. Before passing away, one of his friends wrote these words of him down: “Love one another. God is love. As we stated in the code of Aggalia that we wrote collectively, love everyone equally and indiscriminately. Love them regardless of their religion, nationality, gender and political views. Consider everything like that without drawing any boundaries. Only then we can call ourselves human and we can find a way to be human. This is the way to overcome death and become immortal.” And here what the people who love him said after his death: “On that day, Papa Stratis embraced Aylan and they left this cruel world together and went on a journey to immortality.”
On an interview, Papa Stratis said the following: “I am Father Stratis from Kallonoli Village on Lesbos Island. We came to this world to be helpful. Our foundation called Aggalia is established with the purpose of helping people who come from across the sea. We began to help the refugees in 2007, but the foundation became official in 2009. You have to understand that these people are running away from bullets. These are people who walk for 10, 18, 20 hours. As a Syrian told me: ‘I can walk for another 50 hours just to save my child.’ For us, they are people in need. When you see a person who cleans oneself on the island one morning or a mother and a child who cry, you have to help them without asking whether they are Christians or not; you have to give them food. Life is short, too short. So, we have to do good things in order that our lives have some value. If we do something good for other people, we would have our share from this goodness.”