Return to Imbros

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram A small village on the island of Imbros is being restored to its former glory thanks to the vision of a Greek Melburnian.‘I knew that crying would not fix this. Either you leave and never come back, or you stay and do somethingNikos Doldouris, a resident of the island until 1966, always dreamed of returning to his home of Schinoudi after being forced to relocate to the mainland by Turkish authrorities at the age of 24. Speaking of the day he was forced to leave, Mr Doldouris remembers it clearly.“The situation had reached breaking point; there was no future, no hope. We gathered our belongings into two suitcases, locked the house and went down to the port to take the boat and we ended up in Athens … but I was always thinking about returning some day.”The enforced colonisation of Imbros by Turkey dates back to just after the World War 1. As part of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, it was agreed the islands Imbros and Tenedos, situated near the Dardanelles strait, would be surrendered to Turkey. Though the agreement granted islanders self-governing status, it was ignored and eventually colonised by mainland and Bulgarian Turks. Originally boasting a population of 7,000 Greeks and 200 Turkish officials, by 1970, just 40 per cent of the population were Greek.Until recently the island appeared to be abandoned, with many of the original homes destroyed and the majority of Imbros’ former Hellenic inhabitants scattered throughout Greece and overseas.After 24 years in Australia, Doldouris, the owner of a successful Melbourne travel agency, decided to shut up shop and return home. There he witnessed scenes that would move him to tears. “Nothing was as we left it. I started crying when I saw my village and the house I was born in destroyed. But that was it. I knew that crying would not fix this. Either you leave and never come back, or you stay and do something,” says Doldouris. “Unfortunately, it happened. We cannot keep complaining, we need to look forward.”With this positive attitude he set to work. Although Turkish locals didn’t initially know how to respond to his efforts, they soon came to realise his intentions were for the island’s benefit.Soon friends jumped on board to help, assisting Doldouris in the restoration of properties, including friends’ old homes and the local church, along with the upkeep of the cemetery and general infrastructure. Although he is optimistic about the island’s progress, Doldouris realises there’s only so much that can be done with so few resources. In his quest to help secure the future of Imbros, Doldouris is reaching out to others interested in keeping the island alive and thriving.“The situation in Imbros today is much better than 20 or 30 years ago. Some Greeks have returned…“In order to keep this project alive, more people, especially the young, need to return to the island permanently, to live and work here.” Source: Greek Reporterlast_img read more