A whole year of Migratory Birds!

On April 14th, we celebrated the first birthday of the newspaper “Migratory Birds”.  We blew out the candle, cut the cake and made a wish for our “flight” to continue.

A whole year has gone by with its ups and downs, smiles and tears, joys and disappointments.

A time full of experiences, emotions & contact points!

This first anniversary of the newspaper brings back memories of a “film”, which began in the vegetable garden of the camp at Schisto. 15 Afghan and one Greek girl took part in this film, seated on a piece of plastic under the shade of the trees, taking part in various photography lessons.

The trigger for the creation of the newspaper was the arrival of various reporters in the camp and their rebuttal by the inhabitants, who believed that any interview they gave would never reach the people it should.  And even if it did go beyond the limits of the camp with the aim of contributing to the solution of various problems, nobody would actually be particularly interested.

And so, we decided to become reporters ourselves, to become the voices of the refugee world and to record those voices in our very own newspaper.

Our journalistic activities began with the newspaper that we named “Migratory Birds”, because all the contributors cherished the hope that one day they would fly in the direction of happiness and joy.  We never gave up; we persevered, despite being mocked and criticised.

Some girls in our team had to leave us along the journey because they flew far away.  We shed tears but we also wished them well on their road to a better future.  Meanwhile we devoted ourselves to the newspaper, whose first edition was the culmination of several months of hard work, during which we had to deal with disparaging comments and a variety of problems.  Our Greek friend stood by us throughout all those ups and downs, through moments of tears and times of joy, encouraging us and supporting our every step.

When the newspaper was finally printed a few months later, it inevitably filled us with pleasure, satisfaction and pride.  A proper newspaper, a supplement to the Efimerida ton Syntakton, a sweet thank you and a “reward” for all our efforts.  In the end, our paper was very warmly received by people both in and outside the camp.

It was through our newspaper that people became aware of the true extent of our problems.  They felt for us, cried for us and even cried with us.

I will never forget how one Afghan resident of the camp came to our container after having read the paper, congratulated us and declared proudly that he would support us.  He expressed such wonderful positive feelings.  That was when the Afghan men in the camp generally started to offer active support.  I should also stress the warm welcome that the Greek people afforded us, and invited us to visit various schools and university departments.  Another major success for us was that issues of our newspapers were on display at both the 14th and 15th Thessaloniki International Book Fairs.

Another interesting fact is that  “Migratory Birds” is the first newspaper with articles in Farsi to be published in Greece.

All these things that I have mentioned have been steps that have helped us move upwards on our journey.  We are also encouraged by the fact that Afghan boys have worked with us ever since the second issue.  Moreover, we have discovered that slowly but surely, our newspaper is acquiring more and more supporters outside Greece, for example in other European countries such as Spain (where “Migratory Birds” appear in Spanish), Germany and Italy.

Certain articles have been translated and posted on various websites, even in the United States.

We write about the reasons and desires that lead to migration, and about our ambitions.  We appreciate our supporters and show them the road to hope that started in that lovely vegetable garden in the camp, while what we portray ranges from the results of one grandfather’s efforts to the complaints of Afghan women.  One Afghan woman wrote a very positive review saying that the newspaper didn’t contain the simple words of an Afghan girl but of a very brave woman.  That description was very satisfying because I was being indirectly called “the ‘brave’ Afghan girl”, but at the same time it saddened me because we Afghan women do not support each other as much and as often as we should.  So how can we expect the men to believe in our power?

After the 3rd issue, the newspaper went from strength to strength with the involvement of young people from Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran and Greece.

Today, with its 7th issue, the newspaper “Migratory Birds” is moving forward with an energy that very few people could have foreseen.

In fact, we have just come to the end of our first year.  We have flown to great heights and we would like to thank all those that have helped us, supported us and stood by us.  We would also like to thank those who disagreed with us.  Their point of view doubled our resolve to prove them wrong and meant that we valued our improvement and expansion even more.

We don’t know what the future holds for us, but we hope that our newspaper will be published for many years to come.  And even if it does close down for whatever reason, we will still have the satisfaction of knowing that we wrote, described and revealed our memories and experiences, as well as the living conditions of refugees in general.  It is enough for us that at some point you became a part of the pain of your fellow men and women and that you noticed us.

We wrote about the camp and you enjoyed the peace of your homes.

We described the rainstorm and you believed in the rainbow that followed.

And if we wrote about wars, you believed in the coming of peace.

We simply believe that matters of the heart will always touch other hearts.

My closing wish is for the “Migratory Birds” to fly all over Europe, and even all over the world!

Photos by Migaratory Birds Team

Mahdiah Hossaini