“My aunt was 120 years old when she died in Turkey and she was really happy every time she heard the region’s songs on the radio. She used to stop praying every time that the radio was playing a song, and would mourn her birth place while listening. After the song was finished, she returned to her prayers.” Hussein Solmez’s aunt was forced to leave from a small village of Almopia, called Foustani due to the treaty of Lausanne when she was 22 years old.
Ninety years later, her nephew along with 182 other compatriots drove up from Sariyer, a municipality of Istanbul, to Foustani, in search of their ancestors’ origins and to meet the main characters of the refugee stories that they used to hear of.
A plane tree, was the first thing that welcomed the four buses filled with Turkish visitors. Many of them rushed to take a picture next to that plane tree which is something of a trademark for the village, alongside the local valley.
Some of the Turkish visitors carried an improvised map of the village as a guide, using it to locate the places where their ancestors were born, grew up and lived.
One of the people in search of their origins is Sakir Ozan. Sakir was able to locate the home where his ancestors lived while others were not that lucky. “I found the home where my ancestors were born and lived,” he said with excitement.
The initial surprise of the locals was followed by a warm welcome to the Turkish visitors. In fact, they tried to speak some Turkish that they have learned by watching Turkish soap-operas.
A 77 year-old-local, Mr. Vasillis said farewell to the unexpected visitors by stating that “they are good people. We do not have any differences with them. The politicians made us fight with each other.”
The “trip of nostalgia” at the Greek villages of Pella was organized by the Sariyer Municipality of Istanbul. The reason behind the municipality’s initiative was the completion of 90 years since the treaty of Lausanne was signed.
The Turkish travelers visited the city of Eddesa, as well as the city of Aridaia. Next station of the trip was the village Konstadia of Aridaia.