By Nick Siriodis.
The war in Ukraine is raging and no one knows when it will end. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are uprooted and looking for a chance at life in other countries. Greece has so far welcomed around 40,000 refugees and over 80% are women and children. The men have stayed behind and are defending their homeland from the Russian invaders.
The Greeks of Australia could not watch this injustice and do nothing. They decided to help out in order to provide relief to those Ukrainians who are suffering.
For this purpose, a fundraiser is being held with the cooperation of many Greek organisations and leading personalities of the community and the money raised will be allocated to the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), in order to finance Greek language learning programs and more. Language proficiency is a critical factor for the successful resettlement of refugees, allowing them to fully participate in Greek society and tap into employment and education opportunities in Greece.
The GCR is a non-governmental charitable organisation that works with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to provide humanitarian assistance to people arriving in Greece. This assistance includes free legal advice, employment programs, Greek and English language courses, as well as training programs. In 2005, the GRC was awarded for its work by the then-President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias.
A special committee has been established to run the fundraiser and on the Board is the President of the Greek Community of Melbourne, Bill Papastergiadis, the President of the Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Fotini Kypraios, PRONIA President, Kris Pavlidis, and Fronditha Care President, Jill Taylor-Nikitakis.
The Greek Herald visits the GCR with Mikakos:
Victoria’s former health minister Jenny Mikakos visited the building that houses the GCR in Athens on Thursday morning.
During her visit, Mikakos was informed about all the actions that take place at the GCR every day, listened to what the Ukrainian families had to say and conveyed the support of Australia’s Greek diaspora.
The Greek Herald was present at the visit and watched as Mikakos spoke with those in charge, listened to their problems and exchanged opinions with them.
The manager of the PYXIDA Intercultural Center, Anna Mertzani, gave Ms Mikakos a tour of the building and the areas where educational programs are held daily and Mikakos had the opportunity to chat with children and their families.
Mikakos spent time with Ukrainian parents who were present and allowed time to listen to everyone’s personal story.
She mentioned that a program with 50,000 jobs in tourism especially for Ukrainians will become available and stressed the need to learn the Greek language.
‘We have raised about $20,000′:
Speaking to The Greek Herald, Mikakos said: “I wanted to personally visit the Greek organisation for refugees and learn more about the programs currently available and the different services they have to offer.
“I had the chance to have conversations with Ukrainian parents who are in great need of finding jobs here in Greece to support their families.
“With the fundraiser, we help them learn the Greek language which will then assist them to find a job and assimilate easier in the society,” she said.
Asked about the response from Greek Australians, Mikakos emphasised: “The fundraiser is going very well and I hope more people from the diaspora will support the cause after this visit.”
“We have raised about AUD $20,000 and we think we’re going to top that and give a little help to this organisation,” she said.
Acoording to the Manager of the PYXIDA Intercultural Center Anna Mertzani the organisation currently serves up to 350 children aged 2 to 18, from at least 22 countries.
Donations can be made to:
UKRAINIAN REFUGEES IN GREECE APPEAL
- BSB: 942301 ACCOUNT NUMBER: 1747013
- Oakleigh and Northcote Bank of Sydney branches can take cash donation deposits.
- For more information contact: refugees.in.greece.appeal@dimitrig
*All photos copyright: The Greek Herald.