Athens. Photo by Constanze Flamme
Athens. Photo by Constanze Flamme

A Journey back to Athens

Elias N. Toumeh works with Other Story, an initiative focusing on "personal stories in a changing world, told by the people who are living the change." He is a translator and was also a trainer in the Tandem collaboration The Honorary Hotel, by Tandemians Inga Gerner Nielsen and Ariane Jedlitschka. Elias joined the Tandem Europe Final meeting in Athens at the end of January 2017 to present The Honorary Hotel, together with Ariane Jedlitschka. Here, he shares his experience of being back in Athens, read on:

Elias in Athens
Elias in Athens

I started my journey to Germany in September 2015, and Athens became my first important station in Europe. The first impression was not the best: it was raining, as we were walking in the streets, waiting impatiently for the call from someone who could help us. We had no equipment for the hard journey in front of us, and we began to lose hope. After a while, we came across a shop (the one behind me in the picture), and we bought sleeping bags, waterproof clothes, and even knives – because we didn’t know what was awaiting us on the way.

In this moment, right there in the shop, I fully realised that the journey and hardship had begun. The way was not easy, we experienced many difficult situations on the borders of the Balkan states. The trains were overcrowded, as well as the camps and the hygienic and living conditions were really bad. But in the end, I arrived safely to Germany and a big weight fell off my mind and heart.

In January 2017, I came back to Athens – this time for the Tandem Europe Final meeting, to represent The Honorary Hotel with Ariane Jedlitschka.

I came back to the shop, from where I started my journey, and I took this photo in front of it. As I was standing there, three sentences crossed my mind:

  1. “Never lose hope!”
  2. “Every human deserves a good life!”
  3. “Humanity is the solution!”

For all of this, I have to thank Other Story and Madeleïne Käte for introducing me to The Honorary Hotel initiative in Germany, and therefore giving me the opportunity to present our project as part of Tandem Europe. The main idea of our project was the “Circle of Trust”, and for me, Tandem Europe is now part of this circle.

A big thank you to Tandem Europe to make me come back to Athens and replace the bad memories with good ones.

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