Last weekend was certainly a defining moment for Greek newcomers in Melbourne and Adelaide who, due to the ongoing financial crisis in Greece, have left their homes and migrated to Australia to seek a better future and opportunities for themselves and their families.
Even with busy personal schedules, many of them attended one of the two state meetings and shared their migration stories and experiences collected along the way.
“There was about 200 of us and we all met at the Cretan Brotherhood in Brunswick,” says newcomer Petros Gyftopoulos who arrived in Melbourne in September 2013 and has since founded the group ‘ΕΝΑ – Έλληνες Νεομετανάστες Αυστραλίας 2010+’ with the purpose of bringing together as many new Greek migrants as possible and creating a community which will assist members of the group to have a smooth transition into Australia.
“It was a very pleasant afternoon and we ended up spending over five hours talking, sharing experiences, and exchanging valuable ideas and information,” says Petros who is due to travel to Sydney tomorrow to attend the newcomers’ meeting there this weekend.
“The date of our next meeting in Melbourne is yet to be finalised and it is something I will look into upon my return from Sydney,” explains Gyftopoulos who never envisaged that in such short time his initiative would attract 1200 members on Facebook.
“The group we have created stays clear of negative comments and political views and I am adamant about that,” explains Gyftopoulos who admits that there have been occasions where he has had to remove members from the ENA group, mainly because their values and opinions weren’t in accordance with the rules and spirit of the ENA cause.
“We want to help in any way we can, whether this translates into assisting people with their resumes, organising English tutoring, or just getting to know one another and creating valuable relationships and friendships amongst us.
“Most newcomers are young educated people that need our help to take the next step in a foreign country like Australia. By the looks of it, our idea seems to be working if one takes into consideration the overwhelming response and feedback we have been receiving from our members.
“Our main focus is to connect those Greek migrants that arrived in Australia after 2010 and spread hope and positive vibes on a not-for-profit basis,” concludes Gyftopoulos.
At the same time, Sofie Dimitrakopoulou from Adelaide was nonetheless incredibly happy with the outcome of the first-ever meeting held for the Greek newcomers last Saturday 10 June at the Hellenic Macedonian Cultural Centre.
“I arrived in Adelaide almost a year and a half ago and after getting in touch with Petros, we decided that it was time to set up a newcomers’ group in Adelaide: ‘ENA Αδελαΐδα – Έλληνες Νεομετανάστες 2010’ currently has 88 members and offers assistance and guidance to everyone who needs it,” says Sofie.
“I was incredibly moved by everyone’s positive responses and feedback which encourages me to keep going in order to bring together and connect our own people.
“My goal is to provide a platform where we all get to know each other and feel like we belong somewhere,” adds 29-year-old Sofie who was born in Australia and then moved to Greece with her family.
“I have lived in Greece the majority of my life and – although I also love Australia – I feel that it is important for us newcomers to do everything in our power to form our own little community and get to know and support each other along the way. This will then help us maintain our ‘Greekness’ for as long as possible,” explains Sofie who has already scheduled the group’s new get-together which will be held next month.
“Although the finer details have yet to be finalised, I am hoping to put together another event like this next month so that even more people can come and share their migration story.
“I would also like to thank everyone that took time out of their busy days to come and share with us their story, their dreams and hopes, their fears and their love for our home country,” says Sofie who believes that the first step towards her dream has now been accomplished.
“We did it. We all brought Greece to Australia and we couldn’t be happier about that.”