Του Vasilis Georgiou
I have two passions in my life: Helping entrepreneurs find the right franchise or business to buy, and trying to give something back to society through humanitarian efforts.
When the financial crisis in Greece and Cyprus first happened, I wanted to help but didn't quite know how. After all, that is the part of the world I came from before I migrated to the US. I knew I had to do something, but it didn't quite crystallize in my mind until I came across an article in the NY Times written by the wonderful NY Times Reporter Liz Alderman. The article "Amid Cutbacks, Greek Doctors Offer Message to Poor: You Are Not Alone", describes the plight of cancer patients in debt-ridden Greece. It was heart-breaking. It revealed an unprecedented adversity within Greek society that has impacted employment, household income, pensions and access to welfare and medical support. The children and cancer patients are the most impacted. That article gave me the direction I needed.
My wife Anastasia and I started a humanitarian effort for the people of Greece and Cyprus "www.AthenaHumanitarianRelief.org". We identified a few select charities that are doing tremendous service for children and the sick.
I met Reporter Liz Alderman when I visited Athens last year. She reported from Athens that there is a disturbing phenomenon of children who are showing up at schools undernourished. Some to the point of fainting. Families she talked to sound desperate--unemployed parents, no prospect of work, and no medical benefits. The one-sided effort of austerity and restructuring that the Troika has insisted on, albeit a necessary bitter medicine, has completely ignored or miscalculated the humanitarian implications of the lack of an economic growth strategy.
I try to remind folks that the Greek people have made great contributions to civilization through the centuries. We can't turn our backs on them now that they need us the most. No matter how the situation of the financial crisis has evolved, the suffering is real. Our efforts are just a small part in what needs to be done in order to ease some of the suffering, as Greece and Cyprus are undertaking a very real transition.