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.

“I like animals a lot. I wish I could keep all of the animals safe”

“I like animals a lot. I wish I could keep all of the animals safe”

When my brother and I were in Moria camp we saw a snake. She was a soft brown colour, big and thick, about two meters long. It made me so sad when they killed her. They should have taken her to the police. We came here together in May 2019. It feels like over a year ago now. At first, we were in Moria, which was like a small design of hell. Then we were transferred to Pikpa. The situation here is not that bad. At the moment I am doing some gardening and I am going to start taking English classes.

We did not want to leave Iraq. I was working in a beauty salon and studying interior design. Our lives were perfect. We were living well. Then our clan sent us a letter threatening to kill us. They did this for religious reasons. Nobody can be free over there. Now we cannot go back.

Our hopes keep us going. I like to design my own clothes. I also like fitness – swimming, running, training with weights. I would like to be a designer and a sports coach. When I get my resident’s card and travel documents I would like to start again. Maybe in Germany. We have family in Germany: Munich and Berlin.

I cannot speak to my mother at the moment. There is no internet coverage in Iraq because of the fighting. I need my mother. We need to bring her here. In Iraq we had two dogs, seven cats, lots of birds – my mother especially likes birds. I was going to get a hamster but then we had to leave. I like animals a lot. I wish I could keep all of the animals safe.

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

Photo by Knut Tinagent


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