Lesbos Island, Greece (CNN)All Eida Karmi wants is to see her family. It’s the simple desire of a grandparent, but she’s no ordinary grandmother. At 115 years old Eida could be Syria’s oldest refugee.
Now aftThe country didn’t even exist when she was born. In her lifetime, she has seen two world wars and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
er escaping her war-torn homeland she sleeps rough in a refugee camp in Greece, still hundreds of miles from her family in Germany.
“The only thing I need in life now is just to meet my children again — to see them,” she tells CNN with a gritty determination that belies her years.
A woman on a mission
Eida arrived at the Moria refugee camp over a month ago thanks to the kindness of old family acquaintances, one of whom carried her hundreds of kilometers to safety.
Her hero’s name is Ahmed and together with his wife, Berivan, they helped bring the centenarian to Europe.
It’s a feat few would have even considered. Their kind act made even more remarkable when you know the pair have four small children, all under the age of six, with another one the way before Christmas.
Ahmed traveled from Kobani to Eida’s hometown of Hasaka, a northeastern city over three hours away, collecting her before the entire party left Syria almost six months ago.
“I realized it’s really tiring for you,” Eida admits to Ahmed when asked about his superhuman effort. The bonds forged on the roads clear in their easy interactions. Eida has become a de facto member of the family.
However, she soberly adds: “But I can’t walk — and if you didn’t do it nobody would do it, so you’ve been with me the whole journey carrying me and look (sic) after me.”
The treacherous journey from Kobani to Turkey took them three months, Ahmed says, followed by another month trying various routes from Turkey into Greece.
He describes how they initially tried to cross through the northern land border, but Greek authorities refused to allow them through and sent them back. Eventually Ahmed says he paid smugglers and risked the short but dangerous sea crossing.
Eida and her surrogate family are just seven of the 94,642 souls, according to the latest figures from the UNHCR, who have successfully undertaken the perilous trip by sea. The Moria camp, where they sought shelter, is now temporary home to over 4,000 of those migrants, the Greek government estimates.