Letters to the World from an Olive Tree

Parwana Amiri is a young Afghan woman who spent more than a year migrating from Iran to Turkey and finally to Greece, before arriving to the Moria camp on Lesvos Island in 2019.


Since her arrival, Parwana has written a blog she calls ‘Birds of Immigrants’ comprised mostly of her first-person telling of the stories of many different migrants in the camp. She favours the stories of women and children, but uses her “I” voice to speak for all, for every kind of person and stranger, male or female, young or old, migrant or European, also trees.

When Parwana noticed how unbearable the living conditions were, she supported the people with her language skills and started to publicize the stories they had experienced. Parwana’s ‘Letters from Moria’ are published on Welcome to Europe’s blog The letters talk about life in the horrible conditions of a camp made to deter people from reaching a place of safety. She changes perspectives in each of her letters. She writes from the perspective of an old woman, who bakes bread to sell in order to buy medicine for her husband, of a young boy who is afraid to lose himself, of a young woman suffering from the abuse of men all around her and she writes from the perspective of a transgender person. These letters were written mostly at night by torchlight in the tent that Parwana shared with her eight-person family, in the olive grove. She always waited until everyone was asleep, so that she would have the peace of mind to write in the darkness with her torch.

Impressed by the olive trees in the groves surrounding Moria hotspot, where she had to live in a tent, Parwana wrote a story and published her first book ‘The olive tree and the old women’ together with Marily Stroux and the solidarity network, w2eu (“Welcome to Europe”) in Lesvos. The book is based on the real story of one of the many people forced into the Olive Grove of Moria; an imaginary conversation between an old woman and an olive tree.

Shortly before Moria was destroyed by fire in September 2020, Parwana and her family moved from Moria to Ritsona Camp on mainland Greece, where she continues to document the conditions and publish her words.