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​The grandmother on Lesbos who bottle-fed little migrants has died

In 2015 her photo went around the world. The image which portrayed Maritsa Mavrapidou, seated on a bench with two other elderly ladies while she gave a bottle to a new-born baby just landed in Greece – became the symbol of the other face of Europe. The little one’s mother, standing near her, was looking on, smiling. The grandmother of the refugees (as she was re-baptized by the press) died on 16 January at the age of 90. The daughter in her turn of refugees from Turkey, who arrived in Greece in 1922 during a dramatic exchange of populations between two countries, Maritsa liked to recall that she too was a descendant of refugees. And with regard to migrants, she added “If they risked drowning it means that they couldn’t stay”. Illiterate, Maritsa together with her friends was very active at the height of the migratory crisis in 2015, bringing clothes, food and homemade bread to those who were landing on the shores of the Greek island. It was for this reason that in 2016, together with a group of residents of Lesbos, she was a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize: “If someone arrives on the boats and is in poor condition, we simply help them”, she had commented. 

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St. Peter’s Square

Aug. 21, 2019

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