Emilia Kmvysi (L), Efstratia Mavrapidi (C), and Maritsa Mavrapidi (R), sit in a house in their village in Sykamia, Lesbos island, Greece, 31 January 2016  | Photo: EPA/STRATIS BALASKAS
Emilia Kmvysi (L), Efstratia Mavrapidi (C), and Maritsa Mavrapidi (R), sit in a house in their village in Sykamia, Lesbos island, Greece, 31 January 2016 | Photo: EPA/STRATIS BALASKAS

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou has paid tribute to "Lesbos granny" Efstratia Mavrapidi who died at the age of 96 on Tuesday, as Greece bid farewell to another of its heroes of the migrant crisis.

Efstratia Mavrapidi was the second of three elderly women who became symbols of the local Aegean islanders' solidarity with refugees and migrants at the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015. All three women were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Mavrapidi's funeral took place on Wednesday, February 16.

Photographs of the three women helping a young mother and bottle-feeding her infant on the beach following their perilous journey earned them the nickname the "Lesbos grannies."

'A simple, sweet, human person'

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou published a post on social media in tribute to Efstratia, stating "I met Efstratia Mavrapid, in the summer of 2020, during my visit to Lesbos. A simple, sweet and deeply human person, like her cousin Maritsa Mavrapidi and her friend Emilia Kamvisi, the now legendary grandmothers of Sykamia, she was bound to the basics of life, to the core of life, and therefore capable of becoming a mother and grandmother for children all over the world."

"We say goodbye to her with sadness and emotion, and with her we say goodbye to a generation of examples for the next, who walked in moderation, offering generous love and help without seeking exchange or recognition, but innocently, relentlessly, from the surplus of her heart," Sakellaropoulou wrote.

Mavrapidi, a family of refugees from Asia

Mavrapidi was the daughter of ethnic Greek refugees from Turkey in the early 1920s. Her friend Aimilia Kamvysi, and cousin Maritsa, were always on hand to try to help volunteers to support refugees which landed on the shores near their village in their thousands at the height of the crisis.

Mavrapidi's passing means that Lesbos has now lost a third heroic symbol of their solidarity in the migrant crisis since 2018, as it follows Maritsa's passing, as well as the tragic and untimely death of Hellenic Coast Guard lieutenant Kyriakos Papadopoulos, also known as "The Hero of the Aegean", who died last October.

Papadopoulos, commander of the patrol vessel PLS 602 stationed on the Northern Aegean island of Lesbos, died of a heart attack unexpectedly. He was just 44 years old and a father of two children.

He was revered for his role in saving the lives of over 5,000 refugees and migrants during the peak of the refugee crisis.

An emblematic figure, Papadopoulos was honored by Greece's Academy of Athens and the Greek authorities, and was also a nominee for an Oscar after the film "4.1 miles" was nominated for an Academy Award.

 

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