The Humans of Pikpa is a storytelling project about the residents, staff and volunteers that make up the community of Pikpa refugee camp on Lesvos island, Greece. The project was based on the ‘Humans of New York’ model (and other ‘Humans of’ projects), whereby participants share a brief, illuminating story about their lives. It was undertaken by volunteers towards the end of 2019. 


Since that time Lesvos has been afflicted by violent attacks on refugees, volunteers and premises used to support those affected by the crisis; the world has been racked by the COVID 19 pandemic that presents a disproportionate threat to those accommodated in overcrowded and unsanitary refugee camps. It seems even more important than ever now that people read the powerful, sorrowful and invariably, defiantly, hopeful stories of those involved in the refugee crisis, and join the campaign for sustainable action to alleviate the situation. 


Pikpa is an environment where people can find dignity, love, safety and respect. These are the values that underpin, and clearly emerge from, the stories in ‘The Humans of Pikpa.

“As a translator you have to hold a person’s story and then pass it onto another person”   

“As a translator you have to hold a person’s story and then pass it onto another person”  

As a translator in Pikpa, providing language assistance, I hear many people’s stories. Refugees were forced into their situations. No one can forget what has happened to them.  

It is not difficult to translate people’s words, but sometimes it is difficult when you hear stories that touch you a lot and make you feel disappointed. But that is okay, I can deal with that. Although you hear about people’s suffering, you also see how they are trying to cope. They are very powerful people, and this makes you feel more powerful yourself.

I think it helps that I have been a refugee myself. I have the same story. This helps me to understand the people here, to know their needs and to communicate them to others. I was studying English before I came to Greece and learnt Greek here. I also speak Farsi and Dari. I have both the experience of being a refugee and the experience of being a staff member supporting them.

I love my work at Pikpa. For me, it is very nice working in solidarity with people. Everybody puts energy into their work without expecting something in return and reaches out a helping hand to those who need it. Happy individuals make for a happy society.   

As a translator you have to hold a person’s story and then pass it onto another person. It is a big responsibility. We are human – when we hear a story it can touch us. It may be painful; it may make you happy. You hear so many different stories.  

Interviews by Tom Adams and Aud Steinsbekk / Editing by Tom Adams


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