Irini Akritidou, a woman from Thessaloniki— a grand daughter of refugees from Pontos who learned to knit from her grandmother has started a movement to turn her knitting skills that were passed from one generation to the 21st century’s refugees.
The effort was initiated by Irini Akritidou, who used the power of social media— and Facebook in particular— to organize and mobilize thousands of fellow Greek women in a nationwide knitting campaign to produce hats, scarves and gloves for refugees passing through Greece.
In just a few months’ time, several thousand people have joined the Knitting Solidarity Facebook Group and calls to action are sent via Facebook to women throughout Greece— and now the world. To date, thousands of hats, scarves and sets of gloves have been made— “Made with love and solidarity for these people,” Dimitra Fotiadou, one of the group’s organizers, told The Pappas Post in an interview.
The group’s organizers and granddaughters of Greek refugees from Asia Minor said they learned to knit from their own refugee grandmothers so putting their trans-generational skills to use for this generation’s refugees seemed like an appropriate contribution to the Greek cause to help people in need.
When asked what drove the women to start the effort: “Love,” Dimitra Fotiadou responded. “Love for humanity.”
According to Fotiadou, many of the women currently involved live in far away villages and towns and can’t do their part to volunteer or help refugees who are passing through Greece’s islands and big urban centers.
So they follow the group, knit from the comfort of their own homes and eventually send what they’ve created to a central address at one of the organizers’ homes.
Still others women have organized gatherings at local coffee shops and restaurants where they gather, knit and share stories with each other and pass their time in a productive way.
Parcels are arriving from throughout Greece and women post photographers of their gatherings and piles of knitted goods on the Facebook group. Recently, Greek women in Madrid and elsewhere in Europe got involved, making Knitting Solidarity” an international movement.
Several knitting clubs in Athens and Thessaloniki have also popped up where women gather and knit as a group.
The clothing is then taken to refugee centers in Idomeni, Athens and Thessaloniki.
The looks on the faces of the young children makes the entire campaign worth it, Fotiadou said.
When asked if the group would accept cash donations to further their work, Fotiadou said they were not in the charity business— and only wanted to use their skills to help fellow human beings in need. As a result, the group doesn’t take cash donations— only donations of yarn.