Giorgos Moutafis for SolidarityNow

“The people are with us. I want to stay here in Tilos”

“My name is Maysoon Alderi, I’m from Syria and I’m 32 years old. I’ve been at SolidarityNow’s Tilos structure since early September with my husband and five children. In June, I began working at Nikos’ restaurant. I really like working, because I wasn’t able to in my homeland, I was at home with the kids. It’s tiring to work and raise children at the same time, but now all I want to do is leave the structure and meet people, learn to speak Greek, and see what life is like in Greece.”

Maysoon already has friends at the restaurant, and she’s gradually learning Greek. “I know some words that are relevant to my work, like fridge, potato, traditional Greek salad, moussaka, water, milk, yoghurt. Once a week, after work, I go to the structure’s school to learn Greek.

Maysoon’s husband isn’t employed, but he attends the language classes, meanwhile taking care of the children and learning how to get accustomed to the changes. “In the beginning, it was very hard for him. In Syria, women don’t work; they stay at home and take care of the kids. Now, however, his views are also slowly starting to change.”

We talk about the inhabitants of the island, and how they welcomed Maysoon and her family, how they integrated them within their community. “The people are with us. Generally, all the locals are good to me. I want to stay in Tilos. I wish I can buy a house and stay here forever. I hope that my kids will be able to go to school here, and we can all lead regular lives. I didn’t only come here because I am a refugee, I came here because I want to be like the Greeks!


Maysoon Alderi is a beneficiary of the Hosting Scheme project of SolidarityNow, and she lives at the structure on the island of Tilos.

#ESTIA, the Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation programme, is implemented by SolidarityNow, supported by UNHCR and funded by ECHO.

Tilos – Community & Integration pilot project

The Refugee Accommodation shelter was created in 2015 by SolidarityNow, in collaboration with the Municipality of Tilos and stood out as an example of a local project through which the local community welcomed the refugees, supporting the smooth integration of those who would remain on the island. The operation of the shelter concerns the provision of accommodation to 50 beneficiaries and has hosted 100 people so far. Watch the BBC tribute to the Tilos program: http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-40586229/the-greek-island-where-syrian-refugees-are-welcome.