While we were celebrating the holidays with our families and friends, Maria Makroyianni was feeding refugees on the island of Samos.
For almost two years now, she’s been opening her restaurant to the dozens of refugees who are arriving on the island from neighboring Turkey.
I chatted with Maria about her work. I asked her why she put her own business in jeopardy to feed this constant flow of refugees arriving on her island and living in nearby refugee shelters.
In her own humble way, she gave two profound examples.
Pericles said, more than two and a half thousand years ago that we are “open to all” and “at no time do we evict or keep the stranger away.”
Our philoxenia, she told me, is a core ideal of our Greekness, adding that it’s also part of the Greek Orthodox Christian identity.
She then quoted the Gospels— Luke, in particular.
«Ο έχων δύο χιτώνας μεταδότω τω μη έχοντι, και ο έχων βρώματα ομοίως ποιείτω»
In English: “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” (Luke 3:11)
Maria’s example moved me to act. I posted the video (at the end of this article) on Facebook a few days before Christmas and was amazed at the response by my friends.
To date, I’ve raised more than $2,000 in small donations… $10 here and $25 there have added up to a substantial amount to help fill Maria’s pantry with food so she can continue her work— feeding those who need it more than we do.
But that’s not all.
Steve Kriaris in Toronto through his Kolonaki Group immediately responded and offered to send cases of wine to Maria so those eating her home-cooked meals could also enjoy a glass of good, Greek wine.
And chef/restaurateur Maria Loi has generously offered chef’s meals to three people who bid on an auction I organized— Maria’s generosity will add more than $1000 to my fund.
If you’d like support this campaign to help fill Maria’s pantry, click the donate button below and make your donation.
I’ll be visiting Maria in mid January when I’m in Greece and will be documenting the visit via Facebook, so stay tuned.
Watch her story as presented by the United Nations refugee aid division, UNHCR.