It takes a village to raise a child, and these days the village can stretch to the other side of the world. At least, that’s the case for Irini who has been raising four children of her own since she lost her job due to the global pandemic. She only managed to stand on her feet as a result of the Mazi Me to Paidi (Together for Children) organisation which is campaigning for more awareness of its work among the diaspora.
For Irini, the organisation has ensured the survival of her family, which includes a special needs child. In the beginning, she states, she was nervous and embarrassed to reach out for help. “I am in dire straits, and I don’t have enough money to buy the necessities for my children, and there were times when they slept hungry. That’s when my stomach would turn,” she told the social worker at Together for Children.
She worked as a cleaner before the pandemic, but COVID-19 and Greece’s harsh lockdown meant that she had no means for supporting her family. “I begged the people whose houses I cleaned to agree that I clean for them, but due to the pandemic they were afraid and I don’t blame them,” she said. “And, in lockdown, I had to find ways to ensure that my children had food. When I lost all hope, I was told of the activities of Together for Children. I went there, spoke to them about my family, A single parent with four children, of which one, my youngest, is a child with special needs. The help they offered me offered deep relief. I got back on my feet and regained my self-confidence.”
Irini’s eldest children are in high school, and the two eldest daughters accompany their mother to help at work when they don’t have school.
“They do it, they say, so that I’m not too tired and to finish faster so that I can spend more hours with them,” Irini said. “One wants to be an early childhood teacher and the other wants to be a pediatrician. They want to give the love which they have received from others to children, to return some of it they say. My youngest is in Year 2, and he wants to be a soccer player or fireman. He hasn’t decided yet. He shoots a lot of goals when he plays and dedicates them to me and his sisters. My youngest is 5 years of age and goes to a school for students with special needs and manages to acquire parts of her speech.”
Irini is just one of many people who have been helped by the organisation which has many beneficiaries. It does this via an anthropocentric approach, putting the needs of the beneficiaries at the centre of the programs being developed. Help is offered to all regardless of age, gender, nationality, ethnicity, religious beliefs, disabilities, or sexual orientation.
History of the group
Founded in 1996, in Greece, Together For Children is a non-profit/non-governmental association comprised of nine member organisations that work in the field of child welfare.
The group provides assistance to more than 30,000 children in need on an annual basis – irrespective of race, religion and political conviction facing poverty, social exclusion, domestic violence, chronic diseases, mental or physical disabilities or the sickness or death of an immediate family member.
In cooperation with other international organisations, Together With Children and its members are pioneers in the development and exchange of good practices as well as the promotion of scientific research concerning children and young people in need. The services offered at their facilities on a non-profit basis are of high quality and frequently serve as case studies in their field.
In 2016, Together With Children was honoured with the Silver Medal of the Academy of Athens for its social contribution, while in 2019 it received a BRAVO Award for engaging with thousands of citizens in support of its initiative “Equal opportunities for children: Actions for Health and Education in remote areas of Greece”.
In order to directly impact young people and families most effectively, the Association actively practices its philosophy “power through unity” through harmonious cooperation and collaborations with over 200 child protection organizations nationwide.
The group has joint forces with a network of organisations for exchange and to better promote its work, and it operates with strict rules ensuring sound management and transparency. It publishes financial accounts audited by certified public accountants on an annual basis.
During COVID-19, the group has been more necessary than ever but has also utilised technology to develop and maximise its social impact.
Together For Children is an economically independent organization operating on economies of scale. It does not receive any state or European grants and is supported exclusively by corporate and private sponsorships, revenues from corporate social responsibility programs and the organization of charitable events.
For more information about this worthwhile group, visit www.mazigiatopaidi.gr