Updated: Jan 28
Shared By: Marika Rundle
*Parisa’s name means like an angel in Persian*
“Sometimes I feel sad about the way people treat refugees, but some people are very nice to us.”
Two years ago, Parisa, her husband and their 6-year-old daughter were forced by the government to leave Iran. Her husband left first, and eight months later Parisa moved to Turkey, where she tried to get on a boat to Lesvos where her husband was waiting for her. Parisa says the journey was “dangerous and risky” as is the case of all refugees who were forced out of their own countries and come to Greece looking for help, support and an opportunity for a better life.
Currently, Parisa is an operations assistant and translator at Becky’s Bathhouse, an NGO in Greece. Becky’s Bathhouse is a wellness center for women and children residing in Moria Camp on the Greek island of Lesvos, where they provide hot showers, hygiene supplies, and a safe and warm haven. Parisa lived in Kara Tepe camp, a refugee camp near Becky’s Bathhouse. She reached out to them and asked if they needed help, and thus a great partnership evolved.
The language barrier is one of the most serious challenges for refugees. Parisa and her family need to learn the Greek language in order to communicate with their new communities; however, there are not enough classes available for all refugees in the camps, and there is a lack of opportunities to practice in a safe environment. Parisa says she rarely receives support and understanding from the locals. She advises anyone who is interested in volunteering with refugees, to always:
“try to understand them and their journeys, show them support, and be kind to them.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed so much about the world, but it has also made the refugees’ crisis worse. Moria Camp was on lock down, and the team at Becky’s Bathhouse could not work due to closed facilities and health risks. However, they were able to distribute essential hygiene items and wellness supplies to folks residing in the new camp on Lesvos Island.
“I was really sad, because I know refugees in the camp really needed our place, and we don’t know when we will be back.”
Places like Becky’s Bathhouse have a constant need for support from international organizations. Parisa says Becky’s Bathhouse receives hygiene supplies and other donations from Germany and the UK and they help distribute it to the refugees in the camp.
Parisa is a very patient person, and she aspires for a better future for her daughter. She is passionate about sports and empowering refugees like herself. She advises Iranian women who have to go through similar circumstances as hers, to be brave and confident.