Walking together...

I will carry today with me in my heart for a long time. My entire life.
I have no words. So many emotions. My tears can speak for themselves.

To walk together. To share. To meet.

Today we visited a refugee camp in Idomeni.
A place of hope, where hundreds, thousands of people dream of a new life in Germany or Sweden – a life without violence, war or terror.
A dream of a new life lived in peace and freedom.

I think of those brave women who fled with their children and have now reached Greece. But an arduous journey lies ahead. The road is lined with many obstacles and walls. Still, their hope shines bright and clear. They are courageous women, men and children.

I think of the wonderful Metropolitan Dimitros, favourite among children, who protects the equality of all people. He spreads calm with his tremendous warmth and care. He hands out pictures of icons to those who are journeying onwards.

UNHCR and hundreds of volunteers work side by side. The priests serve a hearty bean soup. The camp is filled with the scent of cooking food. The children have a tent where they draw and play. Doctors Without Borders gives medical care to a man with an amputated foot, a pregnant woman and a man who has a prosthetic leg.

Bus after bus arrives with new refugees. Private individuals arrive with cars filled with food. UNHCR calls out, “It’s time to walk to Serbia,” and 20-30 people walk side by side in the “Grande March 2015”. We walk together, 600 meters to the border. It feels surreal. Barbed wire. Military. It feels like a war film from the 1940s. The guards don’t smile at all. The refugees smile expectantly; on the other side awaits the dream of a new life in Germany or Sweden.

I shiver. it’s raining, it’s muddy, it’s cold, and they have a long walk ahead. But they smile. They still have hope. Let us do everything we can to find a sustainable solution! Here and now, we will follow in Greece’s footsteps.

Greece may be a poor country, but it has plenty of love, hospitality and thoughtfulness to spare.
Let us mobilize all that positive energy and safeguard life for all refugees.

Representatives of the World Council of Churches (WCC) visited Greece from 14 to 18 October to strengthen efforts in support of refugees in Europe and the Middle East. Click here to read the WCC press release of 19 October.

About the author :

Marianne Ejdersten was appointed as director for Communication at the World Council of Churches in November 2014. Coming from the Church of Sweden, Ejdersten holds more than twenty years of professional experience in the fields of communication, media, marketing, fundraising and management, both with the churches and international ecumenical organizations.

Ejdersten has authored a number of articles published in several church publications, including the International Review of Mission. She was co-author of The Churches and IT, a publication of the Church of Sweden and a special report titled Women and Internet.

Ejdersten and her team were honoured with the Grand Prix and Gold EPICA 2009 award for conducting the best integrated and interactive campaign "The Prayer" in Europe, as well as the Swedish Publishing Award for reporting in 2012, among other honours she has received for her work in the field of media.

Ejdersten has been the president of the Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation (SweFOR) and vice president for the European branch of the Word Association for Christian Communication.

More information