Local Visits 2015 – 1st Stop: Greece

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CCT and Nikos

From Thursday 11th of November to Sunday 15th, the Campaign Coordination Team (CCT) of EYCE’s “Break the Chains” Campaign to Overcome poverty in Europe visited Athens, Greece, for the annual local visits of the campaign. The visit was planned by Nikos Kosmidis.

Three members of the CCT went to this local visit: Manon Schilder, the volunteer of EYCE Office, from France, Lina Leonavičiūtė from Lithuania and Hilderbrando Flores Vargas from Costa Riva, currently living in Spain.

The first day of the local visits was impacted by the general strike going on in Greece. As our first meeting with the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece was cancelled, we joined the demonstration. We had the opportunities to be introduced to former parliamentarians and speak with Nadia Valvani, who served as a deputy of Minister of Finance, who explained us the Greek economic situation, having huge impact on spreading the poverty among the population.

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CCT and Nikos talking with Nadia Valvani (former deputy of Minister of Finance) at demonstration in Athens, 11th of November, against austerity policies

After the demonstration, we met Dr. Vasileios Meichanetsidis, Department of Program Management and International Cooperation of the NGO “Mission”, Archdiocese of Athens, a representative of the humanitarian Orthodox Church organisation “Apostoli”. We talked about the refugees situation in Greece, and their work to help poor people by developing medical centre, organising soup kitchen,…

On Friday the 13th of November, we met the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (I.A.O), represented by Dr. Kostas Mygdalis, I.A.O. Advisor and her secretariat Lili Vartanian. They presented to us the views of the organisation regarding the various crises in Greece, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean.

After this meeting, we had a walk in Omonia neighbourhood, an area where the wealth of 4 stars hotel is facing to the extreme poverty of people sleeping outside.

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Meeting with Dr. Vasileios Meichanetsidis from NOG “Apostoli”

We finished our local visit by meeting Rev. Dimitris Boukis, the general secretary of the Synod of the Greek Evangelical Church, Rev. Georgios Adam, the pastor of the 2nd Greek Evangelical Church of Athens and two young people involved in the Church. They host children from the neighbourhood, playing with them, talking about the Bible. They also have a local where they welcome homeless people of the neighbourhood, to create interaction between them.

We spent two very interesting days talking about and thinking about the Greek situation, which is really impacted by the economic crisis. We saw these impacts on people who are getting more and more poor, homeless people are more and more numerous, migrants are more and more coming to look for a shelter in Europe, which impacts a lot the actions of the Churches, which have to face to a lack of infrastructure and involvement from the State.

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distribution of blessed sweet bread following the end of the religious service in the Orthodox parish of Saint Philipos

This local visit was really fruitful. It was a great experience, allowing us to learn more about social and political problems in Greece. It makes us a lot thinking about our current political situation, making us believe that young Europeans need to work not only in the fight against poverty, but also contribute actively in the establishment of equitable policies on work, employment and immigration, in the light of respect for human values ​​and towards equality of opportunity for all in development and social opportunities.

This local visit in the cradle of democracy, as stated features, enabled us to be better informed about everything that the media say the country almost every day, compared to the arrival of refugees in Greece. The public debate and the intense theoretical debate is an interesting phenomenon. The question raised during this local visit is what would happen if one day the refugees will hit their own door, as is happening now in Greece. Would open our door, we wondered?

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Fr. Dimitrios Maroulis, parish priest of the church of Saint Phillipos the Apostle

This local visit was a wealth of information and experience concerning not only the future of Greece, but the future of Europe, which should deepen by tackling difficult questions, but also inspired by the bright example of so many people working with hopes and fighting to build a more united society.

 

 

 

 

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