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.

“Music motivates me, it is my passion”

“Music motivates me, it is my passion”

[FR below]

When I came to Lesvos, I met a lady called Carmen. Carmen was volunteering here at Pikpa. She asked me to go to the choir in Mytilini. I said it would be my pleasure. Music motivates me, it is my passion. The choir in Mytilini is called Cantalaloun. I began in November 2017 and was welcomed by the choir master, Mariza. In the choir we are lots of people, maybe 50. There are two groups – the old ones and the new ones. The new ones start at 6.30pm; the old ones at 7.30pm, until 9pm. There are lots of different nationalities – Greek, English, Spanish – it is very international. I have become integrated into the choir. I can sing almost all of the parts; I do what is needed. I can even sing soprano!

I used to go to choir before, in Kinshasa. The music of the Congo is Rhumba. Rhumba is like a fusion of Congolese music and Cuban music. There is also folk – traditional music. When I was in the Congo, I helped out at charities. Now I help out here, doing the laundry for the residents in Pikpa. Wherever I am, I always want to help people.

I didn’t know the Greek language when I came here but since I began at the choir it is easier for me. I like to be together with people and the choir is like a family. I invite you to join us. On Monday we are going to sing a part in my dialect – Lingala. Music is universal.

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


“La musique est source de ma motivation, c’est ma passion

Quand je suis arrive a Lesbos, j’ai rencontre une dame qui s’appellait Carmen. Elle etait benevole ici a Pikpa. Elle m’a propose d’aller chanter la chorale a Mytilini. J’ai dit que ca serait avec plaisir. La musique me donne de la motivation, c’est ma passion. La chorale a Mytilini s’appelle Cantalaloun. J’ai commence en novembre 2017 et ete introduit par Mariza, la cheffe de la chorale. Nous sommes nombreux dans la chorale, 50 a peu pres. Il y a deux groupes, les anciens et et les debutants. Les debutants commencent a 18:30, les anciens a 19:30. Ca dure jusqu’à 21h. Il y a beaucoup de gens de nationalites differentes, des Grecs, des Anglais, des Espanol, c’est tres international. Je m’y suis bien integre. Je peux chanter presque toutes les partitions, je fais ce dont il y a besoin. Je peux meme chanter le soprano!

J’avais participe a la chorale auparavant a Kinshasa. La musique populaire a Congo est la Rhumba. En fait c’est un peu la fusion entre la musique congolaise et cubanaise. Il y a aussi la musique folk, la musique traditionelle. Quand je vivais a Congo, j’aidais dans des organnismes de charite. J’essaye desormais de continuer a etre utile ici, je fais la lingerie pour les habitants de Pikpa. Partout ou je suis, j’essaye toujours aider les autres.

Je ne connaissais pas le Grec quand je suis arrive ici, mais depuis que j’ai commence a chanter dans la chorale, c’est beaucoup plus facile pour moi d’apprendre la langue. J’aime etre avec les autres, la chorale est comme une famille pour moi. Je vous invite a nous rejoindre. Lundi prochain nous allons chanter une partie d’une chanson dans mon dialecte, Lingala. La musique est universelle.

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

Photo by Knut Tinagent




Sapfous 9, Mytilene
81100, Lesvos, Greece






Panselina Agioritou 1, Mytilene
81100, Lesvos, Greece  
Tel: (+30) 22510 62000


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