This is Jakoub, and he needs his teeth back so he can smile again..!
Jakoub lives in Pikpa in Lesvos, the camp we have been working with since September, providing accommodation and support for the most vulnerable refugees.
Our team on the ground have heard countless devastating stories, as the most heroic, inspirational people who have experienced the worst atrocities, pass through Pikpa camp to recuperate.
However Jakoub’s story particularly resonated with us…
Jakoub is 35 years old and has worked in a kitchen as a pastry chef since he was only 16. Until last November he was a successful co-owner of a bakery, but then, everything crumbled.
Jakoub was persecuted for being a Christian. Because of his choice of religion he was kidnapped and tortured, during which all his teeth were pulled out.
Miraculously he managed to survive and escape, fleeing to Tunisia and then Turkey. He tried to come to Greece on foot but the police caught him and sent him back to Turkey. He then tried to swim to Greece but his good friend died in that desperate attempt and Jakoub was intercepted in Turkish waters and sent back to Istanbul. Here he worked for weeks as a baker and managed to save enough money to pay for his spot on a smuggler boat that finally brought him to Greece, on the 19th of March, 2016. Only a few weeks ago.
Jakoub is a pretty amazing guy. He radiates hope and has a huge heart. He is recovering slowly and feeling stronger day by day, he has even jumped back into the kitchen at Pipka, baking the most amazing cakes! Dan loves them!
But every day he wakes up to the devastating realisation as his tongue brushes across the gums where his teeth once were. When he eats his puréed meals, he remembers the torture he went through. When he speaks to people, he tries not to open his mouth too much, or simply covers up with his hands. Looking in the mirror is out of the question, he just doesn’t want to see his face. In the last few weeks he has had many dark, low moments in which the idea of ending his own misery crosses his mind.
Imagine what it would be like to live a life without teeth. Jakoub is a young, clever and attractive man. He has won the hearts of many at Pikpa and we are now hoping to put a smile back on his face…
If you feel inclined to help with this small but life-changing mission, donate to Jakoub’s crowdfunding page to support his dental work (or at least share this post!).