More than a decade after the 2008 economic crisis, Greece retains high unemployment and poverty rates, especially compared to its EU neighbors. Of the 10 million people living in Greece, more than one-third of the population lives in poverty. Furthermore, Greece must manage an aging, ailing population that increases annually as refugees arrive. As a result, dismantling systemic poverty in Greece is a multi-front battle requiring a multifaceted response. Several charities in Greece aim to reduce poverty among Greece’s most vulnerable populations.
5 Charities in Greece
- Echo100Plus. In 2012, a group of mostly Austrian friends “with strong ties to Greece” founded Echo100Plus. Echo100Plus works to secure international aid to support Greece through a worsening social and economic crisis. The organization identifies and partners with local NGOs, then bolsters them with necessary resources, staff and funding. Currently, Echo100Plus is focusing on Greece’s growing refugee population, a group primarily made up of those fleeing civil war in Syria and other countries. Many refugees migrating to Europe make their way across the Aegean Sea, often traveling through Turkey to Greece. Refugees arrive on Greece’s islands in need of basic goods and services like food, shelter and clothes. Echo100Plus supports refugees on Greece’s islands by providing them with basic essentials.
- The Smile of the Child. This organization was “founded in 1995 by 10-year-old Andreas Giannopoulos,” with the mission to see every child smile by addressing many threats to the welfare of children, such as violence, health problems and poverty. The organization runs Day Care Homes where families living in poverty can receive services to fulfill “the basic needs of their children.” The organization also runs 15 support centers throughout the country that provide medical and psychological support and helps families secure their basic material needs. The Smile of the Child employs social workers and psychologists who specialize in helping families in poverty. The centers also aim to open communication between family members and teach parents how to take proper care of their children. The charity’s services are free to every child in Greece.
- Lifting Hands International. With a focus on providing aid and relief to refugees worldwide, Lifting Hands International started its first project in Northern Greece. Its refugee center, a “buzzing hive of education and healing,” operates only 100 meters from refugee camps in Serres, Greece. There, refugees can take classes in language, arts, music and more. The center also distributes aid like fresh fruits and vegetables and hygiene products. By giving refugees not only the necessary products for survival but the necessary skills to thrive, Lifting Hands International allows refugees to escape poverty in a new environment.
- ActionAid. An international organization with roots in Greece, ActionAid has been fighting poverty since 1972, working in and with communities to improve lives and livelihoods. In Greece, ActionAid provides dynamic teaching and weekly training programs to impoverished youth at aid centers in Athens and Thessaloniki. ActionAid also helps organize campaigns for women’s rights both in Greece and globally, putting pressure on Greek and global governments to make the political decisions necessary to elevate vulnerable populations out of poverty.
- Hellenic Hope. Another one of the charities in Greece is Hellenic Hope, which focuses on helping more than 686,000 Greek children living in poverty. It provides children with necessities like food, medicine, educational opportunities and emotional support. The charity sponsors several projects throughout Greece. For example, a partnership with the American Farm School gives underprivileged high school students in Northern Greece access to top-tier “educational and commercial activities.” Hellenic Hope also sponsors “medical and pharmaceutical support” to Greek children experiencing poverty through a program titled Filoi tou Paidiou that provides care and assistance to uninsured children and families.
Overall, these charities in Greece show a commitment to helping impoverished Greeks in several crucial aspects, enabling disadvantaged citizens to rise out of poverty.
– Zoe Tzanis