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Charities in GreeceMore 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare for Greek ChildrenIn Lesbos, Greece, children suffering from life-threatening illnesses are being deprived of healthcare. Concerns regarding the Greek government’s stance on providing adequate healthcare to children suffering from chronic, complex and life-threatening diseases at the Moria camp are on the rise. Many camps are overcrowded and have limited resources available for the growing vulnerable population. Children make up 30% of asylum seekers and those diagnosed with diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, heart disease and other severe illnesses, are being neglected. Forced to live in tents under concerning conditions, children have no access to specialized healthcare to meet their medical needs.

Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is advocating on behalf of Greek children, urging the government to evacuate children with serious illnesses to the Greek mainland or other European Union states that are equipped to provide adequate care. Since 1996, MSF has been providing healthcare and fighting for the welfare of asylum seekers and migrants in Greece. MSF recognized the growing need in Greece and expanded its efforts, providing treatment of chronic diseases, sexual and reproductive healthcare, physiotherapy, clinical psychology and psychiatric care.

MSF is ensuring the government is aware of the urgency of proper healthcare for Greek children. Dr. Hilde Vochten, an MSF medical coordinator, urges a prompt call of action from the government that will address the immediate healthcare needs of these children while also addressing a systemic problem within healthcare for Greek children. Without proper care, many children face lifelong consequences, or in critical cases, death.

Greek Government Healthcare Restrictions

In 2019, the Greek government restricted healthcare access to asylum seekers and those arriving in Greece that are undocumented. Since this time, MSF doctors have seen over 270 children suffering from chronic and complex diseases. The MSF pediatric clinic located outside the Moria camp has helped many children, however, the clinic has been unable to provide specialized care for children diagnosed with more critical illnesses. MSF argues that restricting access to adequate care is a result of government policy that is creating unsafe and inhumane conditions for children and their families. MSF demands the need to remove limitations for access to public healthcare and implement a system that will provide immediate care for children suffering from chronic and complex medical conditions.

The Smile of the Child

Another organization fighting for the healthcare rights of this vulnerable population is The Smile of the Child. The organization was founded in 1995, in memory of Andreas Yannopoulos, a young boy diagnosed with cancer. Before Yannopoulos died, he expressed his vision of creating an organization that would bring smiles to the faces of Greek children. The Smile of the Child has taken a stand to improve the health and wellbeing of children in Greece. The organization has raised awareness through its Mobile Laboratory of Information, Education and Technology by conducting seminars and instruction on first aid. The Smile of the Child delivers support to children with health problems by providing access to ambulances throughout Greece. The organization partners with law enforcement, social groups and other public entities to advocate for the safety and wellbeing of children.

While Greek authorities have been criticized for obstructing access to healthcare, organizations are taking a stand to ensure the healthcare needs of Greek children are met. As the need for adequate healthcare rises, the Greece government will be challenged in addressing the growing demand.

– Brandi Hale
Photo: Flickr