While on the plane and travelling to Geneva and the Nansen Awards ceremony, I didn’t know exactly what to expect.
I did travel with a sense of pride, since the award winners were from my country—Greece. But in the end pride was not the only thing I felt. The magnitude of feelings and emotions during the past 48 hours was something that left me lost for words.
Coming into the customary breakfast with the winners, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. I was excited not only to learn more, but also to congratulate them and give them a big HUG for all that they have done.
Meeting and talking with Efi and Konstantinos was a fantastic experience. Konstantinos talked to us, in his calm manner, about the struggles they go through daily, but more so in 2015. He and more than 2,000 volunteers went above and beyond duty, worked tirelessly 24 hours a day and rescued more than 7,000 people in the passage from Turkey to Greece. He talked to us about how the raw emotions they felt would range from extreme sadness to extreme happiness.
Efi, on the other hand, is exactly what the refugees claim her to be: a mother to all. Whether she is with a refugee, a volunteer or someone that she just met, her calmness and sweetness is overwhelming.
But as all mothers she is tough and pushes to get things done, no matter what bureaucracy she might face. And, like all mothers, she doesn’t take any of the credit.
Both Konstantinos and Efi were a picture of humility but also of great strength. It was truly an honour to meet them. I was left in awe of what they do, with a great feeling of pride and a feeling of responsibility to share what they have done, and to help and support in any way I can.
Thank you Efi and Konstantinos for all that you have done!