Kouros, Saidu and Giannis

Kouros, Saidu and Giannis

Is it because we always look for the good version of the story, the “fairy tale” with the happy end? Is it because positive examples, at least in the way the media sees them, are few? Is it the broad smile, full of light and joy, of the 18-year-old Iranian refugee Kouros Durmohammadi Bagi who excelled in Greece’s university entry exams that is so life-affirming and makes one feel optimistic about the future?

Wherever the answer lies, the story of the young man – who arrived with his parents on Lesvos on a boat in 2019, ended up at the notorious Moria camp, and, since last year, when they were granted asylum, have lived in an apartment – has the dynamic that can transform the impossible into the possible. “Without my teachers, my classmates and the people at the ministries I wouldn’t be here,” he said happily after receiving his exam results. The ministries of Education and Migration helped him, he said, so he could get official documents and register for the exams.

Last Tuesday, the official premiere of the movie “Rise” was organized in the Athenian district of Sepolia, documenting the rags-to-riches tale of the Nigerian-Greek family of NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. Their American dream is a popular one: How they lived for years in Sepolia in great poverty but with perseverance and dignity. Here, too, neighbors and people they met supported them so that they could make their incredible leap to the top of the world. And Giannis Antetokounmpo himself has not forgotten. It is obvious at every event he attends. The premiere was held where he grew up and played sports, with his people invited, and not celebrities.

Not long ago a 17-year-old top-mark student refugee from Guinea, Saidu Kamara, was at risk of deportation. The school, his teachers and classmates stood by him, the Ministry of Education helped, and he was eventually granted asylum.

All’s well that ends well? Yes, when the state and relevant ministries respond to their role and small communities to theirs; when the school, the neighborhood, show sensitivity and humanity; when the wave of support does not have a political slant, does not belong to either the government or the opposition; when it supports excellence, not only based on grades, but on effort, courage and perseverance; when communication means a need for coexistence and not an opportunity to show off.

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