Rafail Giannelis weaves traditional baskets and narratives

Rafail Giannelis weaves traditional baskets and narratives

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Rafail Giannelis, weaves traditional baskets with his hands for years nowand weaves unique narratives with his knowedge and words describing the history and intangible cultural heritage of his homeland, Lemnos!

With an academic background in Modern Greek and Medieval Philosophy and Ethnography, Rafail has been collaborating with MedINA since 2020 as a local project officer, in Lemnos, for the Terra Graeca Programme.

Here is a glimpse into his personal journey and well-wishes for the organisation’s progress and development.

“Varos, Lemnos, 28/6/2019. Irini and Theophilos visit me at home to make cheese in the tyrvolia, baskets made of bulrush. What better birthday present than that, especially when you’ve been given leave by the army for the day!

That day marked me in many ways: until then, you see, I had been confined to the ethnographic Other, to a recording and interpretation of the phenomena of popular culture, but that was it. Through the reversal of roles, from researcher to informant, playing essentially with dual identities, I realised that something essential, professional, and, most important of all, something that goes along with my own mind, with my own stance towards the world and the environment, was being done in MedINA. This fascinates you, captivates you and overall integrates you into this group that has common goals and interests with you, marking a common course.

I began working at MedINA as soon as I finished my military service, in April 2020. Since then, within this big family, because it is a family, I found my scientific self, my true self, and I felt what all colleagues feel: the agony, the drive, the respect and awe for the environment we inherited, the patience for this world where nature and culture, man with earth and water, ought to inseparably and respectfully coexist in balance and harmony as they did so many years ago.

An organisation that has provided, is providing, and should continue to provide for many years to come, its services to nature, the earth and water, and to humankind. A huge and rich work, which nevertheless captures and studies the reality, not embellished but as it exists, that we all created and are working to change for our children and the generations to come.

Through the cooperation with MedINA and the endless discussions with colleagues from different disciplines, you grow, you mature, you change, but you change for the better, for the socially beneficial, because that is what matters, the common good, not self-interest, not professional advancement based on hollow theories and ignorance.

Looking at the presence of our organisation over the years, and running through its work –publications, articles, books, presentations, everything it has achieved over the years–, one can see how it has evolved, how it has followed the needs of the times, retaining its character unchanged: the wellbeing of local communities with respect for nature. MedINA is always there for anyone who needs it, to protect and safeguard what many have until recently neglected in their own self-interest.

I will conclude thinking about climate change and its impact on human communities, quoting a phrase of my godmother, verified through my work with MedINA every day: The soil listens, and wakes up!

May MedINA continue to awaken the earth, human and natural, so that our descendants may find that yeast to understand its essence: prosperity between community and nature”!