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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 23 September 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 2017 23 GREECE the vets. Most days consist of cleaning and building at Irini's shelter near Mytilene and driving around with Eva, rescuing animals. Not only canines, horses, donkeys and goats too! The thing is, these people use a lot of their own money and rely on donations to even attempt to keep up. With spring and summer being mating seasons, you can imagine five cats becoming 30, whilst dumped puppies are found daily across Greece. Different organisations focus on certain aspects of street animals. The Wild Things Project is all about neutering, whilst Irini's shelter is more of a hospice for sick, injured or aging canines. There are around 3,800 refugees on the island now, significantly down from the thousands of weekly arrivals in 2014 and 2015. What are their messages of hope? How do they feel about being in Europe? Their hopes are that one day they'll be reunited with any remaining family and return to their lands peacefully. Places like One Happy Family and Mosaik Centre are social centres that give refugees a purpose to wake up in the morning because of classes, social enterprise and interaction with each other. The common feeling for refugees about being in Greece is that of being a prisoner. It's quite challenging to love a place that in essence, is keeping you hostage. That's not to say they are not grateful for making it this far; walking for months on end with literally bread and water to sustain them. We must appreciate the kind of resilience this would demand of any human being. Some travelled two years to be here. Many talk about the kind locals that have helped them. Others speak of denied business opportunities, such a shame for everyone involved. What does the future hold for you? The immediate future is continuing my work to bring about change through education and guidelines that are enforced. The animal welfare situation in Greece must change and I'm pleased to know there are some exciting things happening in the near future. I look forward to keeping you updated. Beyond that, well, I'm hesitant to make concrete plans. *Billy Cotsis is the author of ‘The Many Faces of Hellenic Culture’.
16 September 2017
30 September 2017