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.

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Photo by Gregory Hayes on Unsplash

"Can I buy you a drink?" is a loaded question.

It could be an innocent request from someone who's interested in having a cordial conversation. Other time, saying "yes" means you may have to fend off someone who feels entitled to spend the rest of the night with you.

In the worst-case scenario, someone is trying to take advantage of you or has a roofie in their pocket.

Feminist blogger Jennifer Dziura found a fool-proof way to stay safe while understanding someone's intentions: ask for a non-alcoholic beverage or food. If they're sincerely interested in spending some time getting to know you, they won't mind buying something booze-free.

RELATED: States are starting to require mental health classes for all students. It's about dang time.

But if it's their intention to lower your defenses, they'll throw a mild tantrum after you refuse the booze. Her thoughts on the "Can I buy you a drink?" conundrum made their way to Tumblr.

via AshleysCo / Tumblr


via AshleysCo / Tumblr

The posts caught the attention of a bartender who knows there are lot of men out there whose sole intention is to get somone drunk to take advantage.

"Most of the time, when someone you don't know is buying you a drink, they're NOT doing it out of a sense of cordiality," the bartender wrote. "They're buying you a drink for the sole purpose of making you let your guard down."

So they shared a few tips on how to be safe and social when someone asks to buy you a drink.

From the other side of the bar, I see this crap all the time. Seriously. I work at a high-density bar, and let me tell you, I have anywhere from 10-20 guys every night come up and tell me to, "serve her a stronger drink, I'm trying to get lucky tonight, know what I mean?" usually accompanied with a wink and a gesture at a girl who, in my experience, is going to go from mildly buzzed to definitively hammered if I keep serving her. Now, I like to think I'm a responsible bartender, so I usually tell guys like that to piss off, and, if I can, try to tell the girl's more sober friends that they need to keep an eye on her.
But everyone- just so you know, most of the time, when someone you don't know is buying you a drink, they're NOT doing it out of a sense of cordiality, they're buying you a drink for the sole purpose of making you let your guard down.

Tips for getting drinks-

1. ALWAYS GO TO THE BAR TO GET YOUR OWN DRINK, DO NOT LET STRANGERS CARRY YOUR DRINKS. This is an opportune time for dropping something into your cocktail, and you're none the wiser.

2.IF YOU ORDER SOMETHING NON-ALCOHOLIC, I promise you, the bartender doesn't give two shits that you're not drinking cocktails with your friends, and often, totally understands that you don't want to let your guard down around strangers. Usually, you can just tell the bartender that you'd like something light, and that's a big clue to us that you're uncomfortable with whomever you're standing next to. Again, we see this all the time.

3. If you're in a position to where you feel uncomfortable not ordering alcohol:
Here's a list of light liquors, and mixers that won't get you drunk, and will still look like an actual cocktail:

X-rated + sprite = easy to drink, sweet, and 12% alcoholic content. Not strong at all, usually runs $6-$8, depending on your state.
Amaretto + sour= sweet, not strong, 26%.
Peach Schnapps+ ginger ale= tastes like mellow butterscotch, 24%.
Melon liquor (Midori, in most bars) + soda water = not overly sweet, 21%
Coffee liquor (Kahlua) +soda = not super sweet, 20%.
Hope this helps someone out!

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If you do accept a drink from someone at a bar and you want to talk, there's no need to feel obligated to spend the rest of the night with them.

Jaqueline Whitmore, founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, says to be polite you only have to "Engage in some friendly chit-chat, but you are not obligated to do more than that."

If someone asks to buy you a drink and you don't want it, Whitmore has a great tip. "Say thank you, but you are trying to cut back, have to drive or you don't accept drinks from strangers," Whitmore says.

What if they've already sent the drink over? "Give the drink to the bartender and tell him or her to enjoy it," Whitmore says.

Have fun. Stay safe, and make sure to bring a great wing-man or wing-woman with you.

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If you're a Republican, remember his name as evidence that real leadership in politics sometimes means risking your reputation to do what is right even when most of your colleagues disagree or lack the political courage to go first.

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