Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Proud of Greek-Americans helping Greece!

I was very proud to read "Greek Orthodox Americans Rally Support for Their Troubled Homeland," an ON RELIGION column published in the New York Times last month. It talked about Greek-Americans helping Greece through hellish economic times...Indeed, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has sent $4 million in people-to-people aid since 2009 through its own/related charities and local churches.

The article described a fund-raiser held on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (a day of service) by 5 Philoptochos chapters in Brooklyn and Staten Island. The goal was to raise $30,000 for children's  shelters in Greece. Members from Holy Cross Church in Bayridge, Brooklyn, have made 4 relief trips delivering thousands of dollars and tons of clothing..."and witnessing a societal calamity none of them had expected in this century." The volunteers have paid their own way and hand-delivered their contributions directly.

Disposable income in Greece has plummeted by 40% and unemployment is now nearly at 30%. "Among children, the level of 'food insecurity,' meaning hunger or the imminent risk of it, tops 50% in the poorest sections of the nation." Few people can afford to use oil to heat their homes and chop/use wood for that purpose.  "The crisis is not as immediate as an invasion," Dr. Alexandros Kyrou, a historian at Salem State University, said. "It has been slow in gaining momentum, but it has now reached a crushing level. But it is no less a humanitarian crisis than the ones in the past, and it needs the kind of humanitarian response Greek-Americans have provided in the past."

Some have resisted helping, believing that Greece brought this modern-day tragedy on itself....But how can we blame children who go to school hungry or seniors without health insurance who cannot afford to buy their medications (our own relatives included!) for decisions made by political leaders and self-serving governments? 

"Where there is pain and suffering, may we bring Your healing and comfort." (From the Philoptochos Prayer)

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