As I sit in a small café in Friedrichshain, Berlin, I look closely at my mimycri pouch. I turn it in my hands and look at the wounds and scratches that become visible in the sunlight. When I bring it to my nose, I can smell the salt-breeze. The label on the inside tells me that it was sewn by Abid and that the boat material it is made of was collected from the island of Chios. The mimycri bag in my hands is the final yet eternal part of the mimycri journey.
Listening and learning
I first heard of mimycri through a friend. She told me about stories of her time volunteering in Chios and Lesbos, what she saw, did, and about the people she met. While volunteering, she met Vera and Nora, two women who had an idea to create an initiative that would clean the beaches, recycle, while telling stories of newcomers to Europe. I was surrounded by other friends and individuals who were volunteering with immigrants and refugees, but this was the first time I had learned of an idea to thoughtfully and artistically engage with the passenger boats.
I was eager to own a mimycri bag and to become part of the mimycri family. I soon found myself participating in a mimycri questionnaire. I spoke on the phone with Vera, learning more about the mimycri vision and answered questions about what I, a potential customer, knew about current ongoings at the Mediterranean Sea. I ended up winning the questionnaire prize- a small red and green pouch, marking the day that I took part in telling the story of mimycri.
My pouch is always with me. It carries all my important belongings, keeping them safe and dry. People often ask after it, remarking on its sleek look and its unique material. I take that opportunity to tell them the special story of this small pouch. I tell them about the boats it's made of, the boats that carried passengers far distances across the sea. People have often remarked or inquired if I find carrying around with me a piece of a boat that might have endured tragedy to be morbid or sad. Each time I answer, “Yes, I am aware. This keeps me aware.”
This little pouch is much more than an old boat, it is a contemporary witness and it shows perspectives. It is recycling, it is history and it is an example that something tragic can become something beautiful and useful. Although remembering tragedy can be uncomfortable, it is pertinent that I do not forget the journeys of individuals.
Each time I chart the scratches and smell the salty breeze that is still stuck to the rubber, I remember the stories they are telling.