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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Human rights activist from Greece returns as International Peacemaker


Efi Latsoudi to speak about the struggles of refugees and asylum seekers

June 14, 2023

Efi Latsoudi (Photo courtesy of Lesvos Solidarity)

A human rights activist who serves refugees and asylum seekers in Greece will be bringing her message of solidarity and inclusion to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) later this year while serving as an International Peacemaker.

Efi Latsoudi is co-founder of Lesvos Solidarity, a grassroots organization on the Greek island of Lesvos that believes in an open society and the eradication of racism, fascism and discrimination. The organization does advocacy work and provides a number of programs and services related to housing and education and the employment, medical and psychosocial needs of refugees.

“Lesvos’ mission is to provide community-based solidarity spaces where it can offer dignified shelter and support to people in need as well as to promote integration by developing skills and knowledge, creating job opportunities and connecting with local society,” Latsoudi said. “The organization’s vision is to inspire society and to expand its solidarity model, which promotes equality, trust, and respect for each other and for the environment, creativity, empowerment and active participation.”

Her organization’s work will be among the topics discussed by Latsoudi when she and up to 10 Peacemakers from around the world come to the U.S. to raise awareness about issues of justice and peace affecting their countries. Hosts are needed for the annual program sponsored by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, which welcomes leaders from partner organizations and denominations to share their country’s challenges and inspire those who come in contact with them.

Latsoudi is a familiar face to some Presbyterians. In 2021, she participated virtually during the Covid pandemic.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as a Peacemaker and to get to meet you after the Covid pandemic forced us to cancel this trip in the past,” she said. PC(USA)’s “work is important, and we are grateful to have you as partners.”

Her organization works with the most vulnerable refugees. Some have serious medical conditions and have experienced torture and violence. There also are pregnant women, newborns, LGBTQI individuals, large families with children, and people who’ve been shipwrecked and lost loved ones.

Last year, as a guest on “Between 2 Pulpits,” Latsoudi discussed her group’s Pikpa Camp, which operated from 2012 until 2020 and served people fleeing from conflict in Syria and other nations, such as Iraq and Iran and African countries. It also assisted local people.

Until the camp was forcibly closed by authorities, “we created a community-based solidarity and a participatory model that supported and inspired many people,” she recently noted.

During her visit to the United States, Latsoudi will discuss ongoing concerns, including European border polices implemented in the Greek islands as well as “systematic and very violent pushbacks against international and human law” that lead to deaths, severe traumatization, and separation of families, she said.

“The lack of solidarity is poisoning the political context on the island and is driving the society into a state of racism and xenophobia,” she said.

Participating in the International Peacemaker program “gives us the opportunity to learn and exchange on peacemaking processes and challenges and (will) allow us to share our experiences and develop new strategies and networks.”

Darla Carter, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus: Efi Latsoudi International Peacemaker from Greece

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Marla Edwards, Mission Specialist, Vital Congregations, Theology, Formation & Evangelism, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Cynthia Embry, Financial/Budget Analyst, Financial Reporting, Administrative Services Group (A Corp)

Let us pray

Eternal and loving God, in the midst of a world of relentless change, grant us a deep and abiding sense of your sovereign power and abiding presence in our lives. May we walk the way you have set before us in confidence, in hope and in faithfulness to our calling in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.