Ideas’ odyssey

vluchteling Ideas vertelt zijn vluchtverhaal live via WhatsApp

refugee Ideas reports via Whatsapp on his journey through the Balkans


Ideas on Facebook:

Ideas’ Odyssey

Ideas blog:

ideas blurred


Poppe & Partners monitoren de reis van Ideas, een student uit Damascus. Hij deed er anderhalve maand over om door de Balkan naar West Europa en uiteindelijk Nederland te lopen. Hieronder zijn relaas. Deze pagina is in het Engels: Ideas spreekt -nog- geen Nederlands. Hieronder screenshots van de Facebookpagina Ideas’ Odyssey, die ook weer screenshots van de WhatsApp conversatie bevat die Poppe & Partners met hem hebben. Inmiddels is Ideas’ Odyssey uitgegroeid tot een omvangrijk open source journalistiek project dat dient als contact- en informatieplatform. Onderzoeksjournalisten uit binnen- en buitenlang maken gebruik van Ideas’ Odyssey. Onderaan deze pagina de pers over het Ideas’ Odyssey project.

Poppe & Partners are monitoring the journey of Ideas, a student from Damascus. He is walking from Greece to Hungary at the moment. It took him 1 1/2  month to get to the Netherlands, onwards to the Netherlands. Here are screenshots of FB page Ideas’ Odyssey containing examples of our Whatsapp conversation with Ideas. Ideas’ Odyssey has developed into an international open source journalistic project serving as a contact- and information platform. Journalists from all over the world use Ideas’ Odyssey as a source. At the bottom of this page the international press on Ideas’ Odyssey.


gabriell van de laak pic Ideas

ss02 ideas


ss03 ideas

ss04 ideas

ss05 ideas

ss06 ideas

ss07 ideas

ss08 ideas

ss09 ideas

This is the story of how we met Ideas and further context:


‘We saw them coming up the beach on the morning after our arrival: 40 or 50 people with hardly any possessions. Wet and exhausted. We were devastated and decided the only thing we could do was help,’ says Becky Thompson, university researcher from Boston, on Lesbos for a yoga course. Her travel companion Irene Harriford: ‘We’re involved, we have to. This morning Becky was waving at the beach to signal where the boats could land safely, after we heard the UN helicopters and knew they were coming.’

This summer an exodus from the instable countries -to use an euphemism- around the Mediterranean and much further is really taking place: on the Greek island of Lesbos the numbers of refugees who sail the 7 miles from Turkey in cheap Chinese dinghies have increased from 50 to > 500 a day. A humanitarian disaster is taking place on one of the EU’s most popular holiday destinations.

Everywhere on the island we see refugees, individuals or groups. At night we hear helicopters flying up and down the coastline. Sometimes the coastguard calls to the dinghies through their megaphones. We talk to a local coastguard officer who is clearly impressed by what is going on.

We have this problem for a while,’ says the president (mayor) Athanasios Andriotis of the village of Molyvos ‘but in these numbers the situation is spinning out of control.’ He receives us in the municipality, and the conversation is translated by civil servant Theodora, who studied sociology in the UK. The Greek have a soft spot for refugees. Almost everybody on the island has a refugee in the family, the result of 400 years of Turkish occupation and WO2. But the problems they have now are bigger than their personal involvement. A political solution has to be found, on short notice, say both Theodora and the president.

The approach of the Greek police is lenient. They collect people, take their names and send them to the refugee camps in Mytilini, the capital of Lesbos. Then they are taken to Athens, in large cruise ships.

I haven’t had a moment of rest in two weeks’, says the Molyvos’ chief of police, who later appears the husband of Theodora. She worries about her husband: ‘if he’s home he’s silent. He stares, that’s all he’s capable of’

During our days on Lesbos we get more and more involved. In the small fishing harbor the refugees get ‘first contact’ relief in the restaurant of Melinda Mc Rostie. Melinda is the spider in the web of the local aid group. She distributes water, food and clothing, helped by other volunteers. We see her giving orders when a large group is on the terrace of her restaurant. ‘I just do this, but how long I can take this, I cannot say’, says Greek/Australian Mc Rostie, ‘my restaurant is closest to the harbor and they are here, first with few, now with sometimes 400 a day. This is an exodus’.

And of course we start helping too when the next group arrives. We make sandwiches and listen to their stories.

I thought for a long time Syria would recover’, says Ideas (not his real name), from Damascus. ‘But after 4 years of misery and violence I just could not cope anymore. I’m a student and there is hardly any educational infrastructure, for nobody. We left yesterday and were sent back by the Turkish coastguard, this morning I left again, for another 1000 $ (the set fare for an illegal journey from Turkey) and was scared that we would not make it because I’m broke. But thanks to Allah we made it.’ Ideas is the only one in his group who speaks English. He says the traffickers tell the refugees they have to say they come from Syria, in order to get their refugee status. ‘In truth our group consists of Afghans, Pakistani and Iranians, apart from about 50% Syrians.’

The beaches of Lesbos are littered with cheap Chinese dinghies and life vests. The island tried for years to make the best of it and save their livelihood -the majority of islanders depends on the tourist industry. But all involved insist that’s over now. They need a realistic solution fast.

The president, but also the Molyvos’ police criticize the second treaty of Dublin stating refugees have to be taken care of in the first country of arrival. ‘This policy is for all PIGS-countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece) not realistic. The economically most challenged countries of the EU have carry the heaviest burden.’

We speak with Dutch tourists (60% of the tourist population of Lesbos). Most of them are in denial. ‘We are on holiday and weren’t aware of this’, says Irma van Tuil from Elst in the Netherlands. After being stimulated by Becky Thompson she joins her to support the refugees. She’s the exception. Most tourists, confronted with this disaster, don’t know how to respond to it. They discuss it when having dinner in one of the harbor restaurants, overlooking the first contact aid. The awkwardness of the situation does not seem to get through to them.

We stayed in touch with Ideas since our visit to Lesbos. He has been transported to Athens, which was completely crammed with refugees. His group is currently taking the Balkan route: they’re walking from Athens to Hungary, and from there further to the countries that will take them. This is a hazardous trip, with robbers and police chasing the refugees, sleeping rough and lack of food and water most of the time. The group has just crossed the border between Greece and Macedonia. The police have sent them back once, so this was their second run. We keep on following Ideas and telling his story on:

pics on:

De pers over Ideas’ Odyssey:

The press on Ideas’ Odyssey:

FAS fliehen 01

FAS fliehen 02



Franfurther Algemeine am Sonntag, 21-08-2015, by Felix Knoke




lezing Ideas and Sam Nemeth

lecture -in Dutch- Ideas and Sam Nemeth 

Mashable, 3-7-2015, by Megan Specia