This kid came up to ask how much the food cost. I told him it was free.

On the Greek island of Lesbos, thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war-torn countries are coming to shore each week. When I was there in mid-August, Lesbos was getting 2,000 refugees every single day. After walking up to 30 miles to the capital city of Mytilini, they stumble into the Kara Tepe refugee camp, exhausted, sunburned, dehydrated ... and hungry.

Luckily, Konstantinos Polychronopoulos — Kosta for short — and other volunteers from O Allos Anthropos are on the scene.


They may not be able to fix this global crisis, but they can make sure everyone has a hot meal to eat.

Kosta at Kara Tepe refugee camp. All photos by Annia Ciezadlo, used with permission.

"O Allos Anthropos" is Greek for "The Other Human." Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, this tiny group of Greek volunteers, with no outside funding, cooks enormous communal meals for the 2,000 or so people in Kara Tepe.

Enormous meals!

Right now, the Greek government is too devastated by its own economic collapse to handle a major humanitarian crisis. And except for the International Rescue Committee and Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World), most of the big international NGOs have been too busy handling the worst refugee crisis since World War II to get to Kara Tepe.

That's why what O Allos Anthropos is doing is so vital.

When the group shows up around noon, everyone in the camp gathers around. Some people come to ask for food. Others offer to help.

Darine and Batul, both from Syria, wanted to help cook.

Darine and Batul.

Basil used to work in his family's restaurant in Damascus. He spent the afternoon helping to prepare and serve Kosta's recipe for bigouli:

Kosta and Basil.

"Honestly, this should be coming from us," he says. "We should be the ones doing this. But I'm glad they're doing it."

Muhammad is from the countryside outside Aleppo, the Syrian city famous for its food. He used to make a similar dish in Syria, where people call it makarona ma banadura — macaroni with tomatoes. "But their spices are even better than ours," he says. "They use whole spices, not ground. They're fantastic."

Muhammad (in the white shirt) taking a turn at cooking.

Everyone — Greek, Syrian, Iraqi — cooks and eats together.

If this sounds different from your average charity, that's because O Allos Anthropos isn't a charity. It's a "social kitchen," part of a larger movement of everyday citizens who gather every week and cook with Greece's hungry, homeless, and unemployed — and now it includes refugees and migrants too.

In 2009, when Greece's economy collapsed, Kosta lost his job in marketing and communications. Two years later, he was still unemployed and living with his mother in Athens. One day, in an outdoor market, he saw two children fighting over food from a garbage can. Everyone else walked past and pretended they didn't see anything.

"I thought that this was not acceptable and horrible and that people should care," he says. "So I decided to do something about it."

The next day, he made 10 cheese sandwiches and tried to give them to people on the street. But they were too proud to eat until he sat down with them and ate one himself. He's been cooking and eating with people all over Greece ever since.

"I am still doing marketing now but without profit," he says. He thumps his fist over his heart. "My profit is emotional."

When the food is ready, hundreds of people line up. Kids come running.

Basil manages the line.

Someone from the crowd always steps forward to help coordinate the line. This day it was Basil.

Darine and Batul loved the pasta. Abdo said he wanted mulukhiyah, a rich green stew eaten in Syria and other parts of the Middle East.

Darine and Batul approve!

This kid came up to ask how much the food cost.


I told him it was free.

That face!

Kosta's bigouli recipe is down below, if you want to share it.

More

Brace yourselves, folks, because this is almost too friggin' adorable to handle.

A 911 call can be a scary thing, and an emergency call from a dad having chest pains and trouble breathing is no exception. But thankfully, an exchange between that dad's 5-year-old daughter and 911 dispatcher Jason Bonham turned out to be more humor than horror. If you missed hearing the recording that has repeatedly gone viral since 2010, you have to hear it now. It's perfectly timeless.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Image by Brent Connelly from Pixabay and sixthformpoet / Twitter

Twitter user Matt, who goes by the name @SixthFormPoet, shared a dark love story on Twitter that's been read by nearly 600,000 people. It starts in a graveyard and feels like it could be the premise for a Tim Burton film.

While it's hard to verify whether the story is true, Matt insists that it's real, so we'll believe him.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Can the teens do literally anything without being blasted? Apparently not...

Katie Cornetti and Marissa Bordas, two Pittsburgh teens, were involved in a car crash. After taking a sharp turn on a winding road, the car flipped twice, then landed on its side. The girls said later on that they weren't on their phones at the time. The cause of the crash was because the tires on Bordas' car were mounted improperly.

The girls were wearing their seatbelts and were fine, aside from a few bruises. However, they were trapped in the car for about 20 minutes, so to pass the time while they waited for help, they decided to make a TikTok video. They made sure they were totally fine before they started recording.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Approximately 10% of the population is left-handed, and the balance between lefties and righties has been the same for almost 5,000 years. People used to believe that left-handed people were evil or unlucky. The word "sinister" is even derived from the Latin word for "left."

In modern times, the bias against lefties for being different is more benign – spiral notebooks are a torture device, and ink gets on their hands like a scarlet letter. Now, a new study conducted at the University of Oxford and published in Brain is giving left-handers some good news. While left-handers have been struggling with tools meant for right-handers all these years, it turns out, they actually possess superior verbal skills.

Researchers looked at the DNA of 400,000 people in the U.K. from a volunteer bank. Of those 400,000 people, 38,332 were southpaws. Scientists were able to find the differences in genes between lefties and righties, and that these genetic variants resulted in a difference in brain structure, too. "It tells us for the first time that handedness has a genetic component," Gwenaëlle Douaud, joint senior author of the study and a fellow at Oxford's Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, told the BBC.

Keep Reading Show less
popular