Game of Thrones Cast Members Recount the Life-Changing Stories from Their Visit with Syrian Refugees in Greece
Through their trip with the International Rescue Committee, a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding refugees, they visited with some of the more than 60 million people who are currently displaced, marking the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II.
“In 10 minutes of getting to a camp, I had tears in my eyes,” Cunningham tells PEOPLE. “It just struck me how unfair the whole situation is, that it’s out of these people’s control.”
“These beautiful people that were there were wonderful families and some of them are broken families,” he explains. “When they were getting on these boats to come across, there wasn’t room and dad had to go on one – the wife and the children and had to go on another – and they’re finding it very difficult to even find each other.
Headey met with one woman – a mother of three young daughters – who has not seen her husband for over a year and a half and now is hospitalized with cancer in Germany.
“She said to me, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to see him before he dies,’ ” Headey tells PEOPLE. “She said it was all too horrendous. She walked for months with her children and she got them to the dingy that we hear stories about all the time, and at gunpoint she was forced on with her children onto the boat.”
Feeling the pain of the refugees, Headey says, “It is all very overwhelming and heartbreaking, and it’s certainly not going away any time soon.”
The cast members met with several men, women and children – including many of who have left their successful lives behind.
“These are brilliant people who have jobs that would’ve changed the world,” Headey says. “Doctors, oncologists, teachers, project managers – and they’ve lost everything.”
Williams, 19, the youngest of the cast members to attend, met with many of the children.
“Just to see how these camps are really, really affecting them and knowing that this can be an effect that will stay with them for the rest of their lives,” Williams says, “it was just really sad to see this is how their life is now.”
When they gave the children gifts, Williams says the children “almost turned into adults with their fighting and their aggression and their hunger” wanting to have the feeling of owning something.
Williams also met with girls her age, who told her about their lives they left behind and the dreams they have now.
“I sat down with an amazing 12-year-old girl called Haya who always dreamt of being an actor in Syria after watching film and television series,” Williams says. “She was telling all about this Indian television series that she’s watched all of apart from the last couple of episodes because she had to leave her home. She didn’t know the ending and she doesn’t know what happened, and it was just something that warmed my heart.”
To cope with the uprooting of her life, the young woman instead began to write her own plays, which she and other girls at the camp acted out for the Game of Thrones stars.
“There was not a single dry eye in the house,” Williams says. “All the other Syrian kids from all over the middle east around us crying also, and it was like, ‘This is their life, this is so real.’ ”
The entire trip hit a personal level for each of the stars.
Headey says, “I met incredible women in the camp, who could be me. The world feels very unstable and I think we have to remind ourselves that we belong to each other as beings and to stop ignoring it and turning away and being fearful.”
For more information or to donate, please go to rescue.org.
• Reporting by MARY GREEN