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Society

“Lesbos Granny” Who Aided Europe-Bound Refugees Dies at 96

February 16, 2022

ATHENS — Efstratia Mavrapidou, who was part of a trio of older Greek women who gained international attention at the height of Europe’s most recent mass migration wave for helping refugees on the island of Lesbos, has died at age 96.

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou described Mavrapidou on social media as “simple, sweet, and deeply human.”

Mavrapidou, her cousin Maritsa Mavrapidou and their friend Aimilia Kamvyssi became known as the “Lesbos Grannies” after they were photographed caring for a baby who had crossed from Turkey in a boat and landed on an island beach in 2015.

FILE – Efstratia Mavrapidou, a co-nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize sits in the village of Skala Sikaminias, on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Oct. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)

The incident came at a time when about 1 million people from war-torn Syria and other countries had reached Greece, hoping to move on to seek better lives in Europe’s prosperous heartland.

The three women from the village of Skala Skamnias, and other Lesbos residents, were reportedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for the compassion they showed arriving newcomers.

Sakellaropoulou, who visited Efstratia Mavrapidou at her home in 2020, said she had been “attached to the essential things in life … and so was able to serve as a mother and grandmother to all the children of the world.”

“With her, we bid farewell to a generation that serves as an example to following generations … which generously offered kindness and help without seeking recompense or recognition,” Sakellaropoulou wrote in social media post.

Mavrapidou died on Lesbos Tuesday. Her cousin Maritsa died in 2019, at age 90.

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