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A. is from Albania and arrived in Greece in 1998. She tells us that she is married with two children and one granddaughter, and that for the past few years she’s been working at SOS Children’s Villages.

I’ve brought this dress, which is from my christening. I was baptised here, in Greece. I am an Orthodox Christian, but I was never baptised in Albania because it was illegal. Three years after I came here, I met my godmother to be, and I was baptised at 31 years old, the same day as my kids, who were aged 7 and 8 at the time. It was 10 September 2001. I remember that because the next day the attacks on the Twin Towers happened and because of that I never forget the date. One day I was so happy and the next this happened, which was very shocking for everyone.

I wore this for my christening. My godmother prepared it for me. I have it as a keepsake and I can’t throw it away: I will keep it until the day I die because it means a lot to me. It marks the day that I got the name “M.”, because in Albania they call me “A.”. Well, actually, here they call me “A.” as well. It was a very happy, important day to me, because I was an Orthodox Christian, but I was never baptised. It was as if something was missing from me. For example, I wanted to receive the communion and they would tell me “you can’t receive the communion because you are not baptised”, or I would go to monasteries, to vigils, things like that, with my godmother, and they would tell me that I can’t enter.

So, I decided to baptise my children, so that they can integrate in Greece. Back then it was very important, you were treated very differently if you weren’t baptised. That’s how I decided to do it and I haven’t regretted it, because I can now receive the communion, my faith is there for me and because of this it’s as if my life has changed, as if I moved from the darkness to the light. When I was baptised I started reading and listening to psalms and hymns, and all that, and it was as if I found the light in my life – I really liked it.

A. explains that she left Albania for financial reasons. She tells us that she had graduated from a vocational school and was working at a factory, but that during the ‘90s factories started shutting down and she faced difficulties.

My husband came [to Greece] first, to find a job, and he had trouble with the police. I got a visa – I paid people to get me one – and then I came here and stayed with my children. Three years later, I managed to get a residence permit, the green card, that is. When I first came, I wanted to start working. I was afraid of the police arresting me, so whenever I saw police I would go the other way. We used to hear a lot of things back then: there were the “sweep operations”, as they used to call them, where they arrested people. The original plan was to stay for a few years, then few became many. Now the children have left and only we remain. I believe my future is here.

When I used to work in houses, I didn’t have security, but now I do, and I hope I’ll get something out of this, because here it’s become my second home, I have friends and I have fun. I  do miss the kids of course – if I could go live near them, I would do it. One of them has been in England with his family for the past 10 years – he has a daughter as well. My daughter has also left. But life goes on, we work towards retirement.

A. explains that she visits Albania every year for the holidays, as her mother and siblings are still there.

“I don’t know what will happen in the future, but my siblings are there. There are five of us, I have a brother and three sisters, one of them my twin. Here there is no one.”


Creator of object:
Place / Country of creation:
Year / Era of creation:
Type / Description of object:
Christening dress
Object route:
Year / Era of movement:
Reason of movement:
Financial migrant
License of digital image:

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