Saturday January 20 , 2018

Aegean seagulls in Siros island

 

“Not a child on the street, not a child in prison …”

When 2 months ago our team held a meeting to decide on the destination and organization of our next mission, the island of Syros and specifically the “Shelter for Juveniles” became the center of our attention. There, we would meet children with delinquent behavior or children coming from families who cannot survive or families living on the social curb.

Στέγη Ανηλίκων Σύρου

 

The "Shelter" was created in 1996 with an aim to prevent and control juvenile delinquency. It offers board, lodgings and educational activities to these children. A team of specialized professionals, under the guidance of juvenile curator Maria Kidonieos Fosteri, compensate for the lack of State interest and volunteer their service. It is through the love, care and education that these children receive here, that they manage to enter society smoothly and on more than one occasion also achieve great things.

As we prepared our mission, we set two goals. The first was to provide the children of the "Shelter" with health care and therefore we secured medical treatment for them at the Tzaneio Hospital in Athens. The local pharmacies of Syros have agreed to contribute required medicine and the doctors on the island offer their services free of charge. The Blood Bank we have created at the Tzaneio Hospital is also at their disposal if need be.

Our second goal was to supply the "Shelter" with all the necessities to keep it running and with toys for our young friends. Thanks to generous offers of friends and sponsors, we donated children's clothes, shoes, food, stationary, medicine and toys. Everything was collected in our storage room and packed in order to be shipped to the island, as it would be impossible to transfer such volume in our RIB. We are very grateful to "Theofilos" Transportation Agency, as they handled the transfer and shipping, free of charge.

34Having made all the arrangements we were ready to go. We departed on Friday, 8 April, 2011 from Marathonas Beach, at around 15:00. Three members of our Team climbed into our RIB, 5.25m long, and sailed towards Ermoupoli – Siros island, a total distance of 64 nautical miles. The weather was fair and the winds a mild 4b, except for Cavo Doro, where the winds reached 5b. It took about three and a half hours, at an average speed of 17-23 knots, to arrive at our final destination, where we safely tied our RIB, clear of other ships' wake water.

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Upon arrival we made our final arrangements. We contacted Ms. Papagiakoumou, a volunteer at the "Shelter" and met with the Treasurer of the Cycladic Pharmaceutical Association, Ms. Armakola Eleni. Ms. Armakola had immediately responded to our cause and had arranged free medicine supply for the children of the shelter, when they needed it. We arranged to visit the "Shelter" the next morning at 11:30 am.

On Saturday, we filled up with fuel and repaired a small mechanical problem that occurred. It was good fortune that we met the mechanic Mr. George Bougiouri. We explained our mission and how pressured we were for time as the forecast predicted a worsening of weather conditions he promptly repaired the problem without accepting to be paid. "I would like to participate this way in your cause, a small contribution for the children". Mr. George, we sincerely thank you.

Time was flying and everything had to be coordinated. We decided to leave straight after our visit to the "Shelter" because the weather expected on Sunday, 10 April was bleak. 7 – 8b winds were forecasted.

We met with Ms. Armakola and arrived at the "Shelter" on time. The children's welcome was very warm and their joy indescribable. The van soon arrived with presents for the children, who run up and carried all the boxes into their "home", not accepting any help from us whatsoever. They enjoyed the whole process very much. The volunteers helped us unpack, store things away and give the presents to the children.

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There are moments that one needs to experience personally in order to feel what we, the Aegean Seagulls call "psychic elevation". The smiles on those children's faces will forever remain indelibly marked in our memory, as well as the words expressed by those who volunteer at the "Shelter".

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It is well worth noting the important and essential work accomplished by the “Shelter”, as it is described by the children. They explained that here “they learn a lot of things such as handicrafts and how to use a computer, they do their homework, eat their breakfast and lunch”. The door is open and the children choose to be there in order “to meet their friends”. Things we take for granted, like an Easter candle, are also important at the “Shelter”, only here children make them themselves, with help from volunteers, who give their souls.

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Time spent with children is always a happy time! Unfortunately the moment when we had to leave our young friends arrived and we had to go down to the harbor. We boarded our RIB and at 16:00 hrs we watched the distance grow from the shore of Siros, our thoughts however, continue to be there. We arrived back at Marathonas, at 18:30 hrs having succeeded in our mission.

We would like to thank you all for responding to our call, for helping us accomplish a worthy cause and offer joy:

AEGEAN AIRLINES

Tzanio Hospital Social Services

Specialized Doctors at the Pediatric ward of Tzanio Hospital

Moustakas Toy Stores

STOP ΑΕΒΕ

3ο Keratsini Centre for the Elderly

Seraikon

Priveshop

Hair Lab

Chemists’ Association of Syros

Eleni Armakola, Sofia Penidou, Georgia Biskentzi , George Maragoudakis, Athanasiou Argyrou family, Ioanna (10 years), Natalia (9.5 years), Tasos and Afroditi Zerva, Ioannis Tselios, Aristotelis Pantazidis, George Tsakanikas family, Alexia and Evi Loukopoulou, Irini Pagoni, Fitsiou Evridiki, Pinakoula Argyro, Marina Papadaki, Despina Matzourani.

In closing this mission, we keep in mind the words of Mrs. Fosteri, who envisioned the “Shelter” and is responsible for the guidance of volunteers – scientists. “Not child on the street, not child in prison” is her motto as she lovingly educates these children, offering them a future.

We thank the children of the “Shelter” for the presents and drawings they offered us.

We thank the children of the “Shelter” , who allowed us if just for a minute to feel they were ours.

Once again, we gave little and received a lot! The journey continues …

 

From the Team “Aegean Seagulls”

Pavlos Vlachos



                                                                                                                     

 

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