In the East Meditteranean sea, there is an island called Cyprus. One of its mountain ranges is called Pentadactylos. Upon a plateu of this mountain range lies my small but extremely beautiful village , called "Mandres", which in Greek means a place where sheep are kept. This is the village where my house is and the village where I was born; this is the place where I played my first games with my friends. Unfortunately it was not my destiny that I would spend the rest of my life there..... But why?

Let us chronologically examine some events: According to archeological findings, the area where my village is located, was first inhabited in the Stone-age. Analyzing the name of the village indicates that its first inhabitants, should have been sheep-keepers.

The inhabitants of Mandres did not only tend to their flocks. They dug the dry and infertile earth, they planted trees such as olive-trees, carob-trees, and vines, and sow wheat and barley. They watered these trees with their sweat and the earth with their own blood, in order to defend themeselves from numerous enemies and pirates who frequently attacked the island.

When the island was hellenized, the inhabitants of my village loved Zeus, Aphrodite and other ancient Greek gods. The Hellenic language, the language of Homer was used, as is still being used today. And when Apostles Paul and Barnabas came to Cyprus to preach the gospel, they adopted Christianity never to abandon it again.

Over the centuries life in Mandres was not easy but life was peaceful full of joy and happiness. That is up until the blood-colored Summer of 1974. That is when the Turkish army, INVADED Cyprus,and the Turks taught its peaceful inhabitants how parents bury their children; they also taught Cypriots the word REFUGEE... The Turks occupied 40% of Cyprus, forcing the Greek population to flee south, to the free part of the island. Among these people were the inhabitants of Mandres. I was two and a half years old. I did not understand what was happening around me. Yet ever since that time painful scenes flash through my mind. I find myself staring at the Turkish aeroplanes bombing and burning Pentadactylos; I see my mother holding me, trying to cover my face, trying to shield my eyes from the disaster all around us...

All inhabitants of Mandres fled, leaving behind their homes,their land and belongings. Six of them were captured by Turks and are still missing. Two of them are my relatives. Turkish settlers were brought there from the mainland of Turkey. They took over our homes, our land and exploit our properties. 22 years have since passed; I can see my village only through field glasses and pictures, but I cannot go there.... Houses are in ruin ready to collapse, lacking and longing for the care of their real owners.

The church, was stripped of the cross which topped it, and first made into a mosque then into a stable (Don't try to read it again, you read it just right!). Turks have tried to destroy everything that is a reminder of the Hellenism and Christianity of Mandres. Even the cemetery has suffered the barbarian vandalism of Turks, who broke the stone crosses marking the place of our graves.

NOTE: The story of my village is identical to the story of all other villages of occupied Cyprus by Turkish army.

Dear friend, thank you for your patience and time to go through my small and sad story.

Andreas K Kyprianou

My sincere thanks to Ersi Demetriadou for her contribution

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