More than 600,000 people have signed their names to a petition that was initiated by a Greek American from Washington DC to nominate Greek islanders, volunteers and NGOs from throughout the world for the Nobel Peace Prize for their role in assisting hundreds of thousands of refugees.
“The native populations of the Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea (and many other external, worldwide, non-profit organizations and diaspora Greeks) have done and are doing anything possible to help the displaced Syrian refugees and make them as comfortable as possible, although they themselves have very little to offer, despite being subjected to a severe economic crisis for many years,” Stephen Katradis said in his petition.
Katradis told The Pappas Post in a telephone interview from his suburban Washington DC home that his reason for starting the petition was to bring awareness and recognition to the people on the Greek islands who were doing things beyond comprehension to support and assist desperate human beings who were literally, arriving on their doorsteps.
A native of Chios, Katradis emigrated to the United States in 1970 and became active in numerous Greek American community organizations, including Ahepa. And he never lost touch with his home island of Chios, always following numerous websites and sharing stories.
When the refugee crisis in Greece began escalating in 2015, he saw story after story— including from Chios, how locals were responding.
“These people were already struggling from years of austerity. They saw their pensions lowered, lost their jobs— yet still, showed that they had humanity, dignity— and of course, philotimo and philoxenia,” Katradis said, adding that “I’ll never forget that baker from Kos, who baked a thousand extra loves of bread every day to distribute to refugees.”
Katradis continued, “These people have reminded us and shown the word, what being Greek means. Humanity, compassion, philoxenia (hospitality) and above all, Philotimo. Their service deserves to be recognized.”
In Katradis’ petition, which he launched through the online advocacy group Avaaz, he selected a photo from his native Chios, with two Syrian children in front of the Medieval Castle.
An engineer by trade for Bechtel, Katradis never expected his petition to catch on the way it has and circulate globally, even prompting a team of Academics to formally nominate the Greek Islanders with a Nobel Prize and receive the international attention it has in just a few short months.