A hairdresser and part-time filmmaker from Thessaloniki was minding his own business, scouting locations to shoot a music video one day when he began noticing crowds of moving people.
It was September 2014 and the days that would follow would change his life.
Vasilis Tsartsanis was confused over why entire families would be walking through “the middle of nowhere”, near the northern border of Greece in muddy fields and along train tracks, he asked them where they were from and where they were going.
The refugee crisis hadn’t escalated and this wasn’t a regular occurrence in Idomeni, in northern Greece.
“Syria,” they replied. And where were they going? “To Europe.”
He asked around and quickly realized that something extraordinary was happening.
“People were in the middle of nowhere, winter was coming. Every day I went, I was seeing more and more people.”
What started as a trickle of refugees crossing from Greece to the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia on the way to more prosperous countries of northern Europe would turn into a flood, with hundreds and eventually tens of thousands of people starting to pour through the previously sleepy border village of Idomeni every day.
Vasili’s story is one of a regular person, a regular small-business owner and everyday, ordinary guy doing extraordinary things and becoming a hero— a savior to thousands of refugees.
“More than 20,000 refugees have my phone humber,” he says in the short documentary about his efforts.
Watch the short documentary here: