Game of Thrones actors Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) and Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) traveled to Greece to tour the International Rescue Committee camps and raise awareness for the refugee crisis.
Headey wrote a letter describing the impact the visit had on her. Read her words below.
by Lena Headey
Today I spent time with a man who, had I been born 20 years earlier in Palestine, I would have fallen in love with.
Standing here today in Cherso camp on the Greek mainland as part of a trip organized by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), I do fall in love with Ahmed.
His home is a one man green tent and as this is the Greek summer it's insanely hot. His wife was killed in the war and he is trying to get to his sons who are now in Holland.
I believe he is being "fast tracked." I'm sadly beginning to think this process doesn't exist. Perhaps it does but should have a new name –“too slow, too little resources track”.
He is beautifully turned out. A still handsome man who mourns for the sad changes in his country. I felt like our chests were wide open and our hearts embraced as we stood under the blue umbrella which shaded us from the blazing sun. He took my head in his hands and kissed the top of it, telling me he only kisses his children this way. He told me my face was calm and made him feel peaceful. At which point my tears fell and I embraced him as any of us would with someone we love.
Ahmed's dignity, kindness and still tangible joy is astonishing considering his story. These people here are angry, yes. They have lost everything. Not just a favorite jumper or a favorite ring. EVERYTHING is gone. And yet there is a connection happening. Human to human contact on the most raw heart-exploding level. We are missing this in the West. We think if we have EVERYTHING we are truly happy. NOT the case.
I defy anyone to come here and meet the refugees and their children and not discover the depth of your own humanity. They will welcome you and your interest in them. You will feel like you've discovered the rest of your tribe. And a few of you will feel like you've come home.
While at Cherso, we watched a play that one of the girls had written about the war in her homeland of Syria. Haya had arrived at the camp and recruited a boy and 4 other girls. They sang a childhood rhyme accompanied by her mum’s iPhone. They sang and laughed and then pointed to a picture they had drawn of a fighter plane. They then crouched on the ground with their hands over their ears and began to cry. It was one of the most moving things I've ever witnessed. Haya then took the role of mother and pulled the children close. She dusted off their toys and tried to return them but the children were too sad and threw the toys down. This was the end of Haya’s play. It didn't matter I speak not a word of Arabic. We witnessed the horror these kids have lived through and saw first-hand that kids are resilient.
The IRC are trying to provide theatre space in camps so everyone can feel they have a space to express their pain. This is a beautiful and necessary thing. Art is freedom.
At the end of the play, as kids do, they stood up as we clapped and they smiled and they were proud.
I spoke to some of the great and inspiring people of Greece who are carrying out the IRC’s lifesaving work. Young people who are stepping up with a ferocity and a passion that is stirring.
Of course they get sad, frustrated and angry, but they all say when one of their guests says THANK YOU, when they have that connection and know they are making a difference, it makes all the frustrations worth it.
We had to leave all too suddenly in order to visit another camp. I will be back. I feel like I left my family.
Hear more about the actors' experience in the video below:
To learn more about how you can help, visit www.rescue.org.