'Lesbos Granny' who aided Europe-bound refugees dies at 96

One of three older Greek women who gained international attention for helping refugees on the island of Lesbos has died at age 96

ByThe Associated Press
February 16, 2022, 10:51 AM
Emilia Kamvisi, Efstratia Mavrapidou, Maritsa Mavrapidi
FILE - Emilia Kamvisi, center, a co-nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, sits with her friends Efstratia Mavrapidou, left, and Maritsa Mavrapidi, in the village of Skala Sikaminias, on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Oct. 7, 2016. Efstratia Mavrapidou, one of three elderly Greek ladies who gained international renown at the height of Europe's migration crisis for helping refugees on her home island of Lesbos, has died on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. She was 96. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)
The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- 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.

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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