For many years we stand by the side of people who have been excluded from society, whether they are inside or outside of prisons, and especially young people addicted to drugs. All these years, we have witnessed the lack of support towards homeless people and have felt part of their pain and suffering… we have seen firsthand that LOVE, can perform miracles and can even change the direst of situations.
Since winter 2005, we are working systematically towards getting ever closer to those who happen to be stuck in difficult situations, in the city we live in. During these cold and snowy winter days, we began to realize that there where so many homeless fellow humans who begged us for some food, a blanket and some medicine.
It all began when we first saw Mr. Elias, aged approx. 65, from Poland. We met him one night at Kotzia Sq.. That’s where he slept at night. His reply was a wake-up slap to us: “I’m hungry, I want to eat some hot soup.” Elias’ odor, who lived on the streets for so long, was horrible. He hadn’t had the chance to wash himself or even see the interior of a house in a long time. His story followed the same pattern as those that we’ve heard hundreds of times ever since: bad luck, bad choices, far from his family, far from his country, desperately alone. A little help, from two total strangers, changed Elias’ face and behavior. He became friendly and talked us about his beliefs and the hard times he faced; it was this initial contact with Elias, that woke us up and forced us to leave our comfortable couch for the sake of our fellow human. We haven’t seen him again, ever since that day.
Two days later, during a snowy night, a group of young people, mostly volunteers, began distributing 200 portions of warm food to the homeless living in the streets surrounding Omonia Sq.. At Vathis Sq. a young woman, after seeing one of our group and without knowing why he was there, cried for help and some food. The warm food in her cold hands made her cry with tears: “Do you know that you where sent here by God?” We visited the roads around Omonia Sq. a few more times.
Soon we established the name “PLISION” (Ο ΠΛΗΣΙΟΝ) and since February 2007, we have also achieved legal status as a charity by approval of the Court of First Instance of Athens, and got registered to the National Registry of Institutions of the Private Sector Non-profit holding social care services (S/N 283) that is published by the Hellenic Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity.
PLISION is an independent body that cooperates with other independent bodies, organizations, hospitals, foundations, churches, priests, state institutions, solidarity groups and volunteers. Besides, due to the extensive financial crisis our country faces, we believe that a collaboration between all those who wish to help in finding a solution, is non-negotiable; and that is even clearer after the arrival of refugees during autumn 2015 and winter 2016, when every local body, volunteer, church, organization, enterprise, shop, missionary post, banded together in order to provide continuous support to the needs of the impoverished and suffering travelers from the East who found themselves at Lesvos, Samos, Kos, Athens and Idomeni. Although we are well known, as one can see, to the authorities with which we cooperate (public authorities, Ministries, Coast Guard, Navy, etc.), we only wish to remain anonymous and ask that everyone respects that. This is the reason that rarely can one see pictures with our faces, or those of our volunteers. We feel gratitude towards the reporters who have respected our desire for anonymity, while they covered, and continue to do so, the events at Victoria Sq. and the Piraeus Port.
Lately, by helping refugees that are brought in the mainland from the islands, we have seen that what they need is: kindness, solidarity and humanity. Every attempt to spread various religious and/or political points of view, as some people from various political, or religious groups attempt to do by taking advantage of their despair, is (as the author believes) immoral.
Since 2005, we have a very good partnership with the MUNICIPALITY OF ATHENS and the Foundation for the Homeless (KYADA). We’ve also met numerous times with the president of KYADA and Deputy Mayor, Mr. Lefteris Skiadas, with whom we cooperated in order to help people living in the street, during the heavy snowfalls in Athens. Mr. Skiadas had charged us with visiting specific spots late at night, and we where impressed by the fact that he knew personally many of the people living there. At 13/02/2012, we presented our article of incorporation to the president of KYADA and we always stand ready to provide our support.
During the 2011-2012 winter, in collaboration with the Friendship Clubs of the Municipality of Athens, we provided hundreds of homeless people with warm food and transferred many of them with our cars to the Clubs, in order for them to spend these freezing nights in warm places.
For many years, we cooperate with the social services from various penitentiary institutions and do our best to tend, to the best of our abilities, to the needs of inmates, and especially those living in absolute poverty.
In 2012, we began a collaboration with Benjamin Child Support Society.
All these years, we’ve joined forces on numerous occasions with the volunteers and staff from “KLIMAKA” and, we are grateful for their material support with clothing and blankets.
In 2014, we started working with BOROUME. We believe that their contribution in Greece, is unique and priceless. Through BOROUME, shops, bakeries and companies, provide us with materials and food on a weekly basis, which results in increased help for those in need. We want to send our respect and gratitude to the staff of BOROUME, for all the good and hard work they do.
Also in 2014, we worked together for the first time with Konstantinos Polichronopoulos and the SOCIAL KITCHEN “THE OTHER HUMAN”, at Syntagma Sq. in order for the Syrian refugees to have food and later shelter in the city hotels. We did the same again recently at Victoria Sq,
In Autumn 2015, Mrs. Petroula Karagiani and ReGeneration brought us into contact with about 40 young scientists, who helped increase our strength and also brought more love and joy in our group. A big “Thank you” to those kids and the ReGeneration team, who helped and supported us with their presence on the streets outside Galatsi Olympic Center, is simply not enough. (3) We’ve also worked together, and continue to do so, with the great young volunteers of GloVo. A member of our team, with the support of PLISION (translated into thousands of portions of freshly cooked food), was responsible for the coordination of groups, organizations, associations, institutions and municipalities that offered food to refugees stationed at Galatsi Olympic Center (October – November 2015), at Faliro Olympic Indoor Hall (Tae Kwon Do Hall) (December 2015) and nowadays, (February – April 2016) at the Piraeus Port, always in collaboration with the local authorities (Galatsi and P. Faliro), the directors of the Hellenic Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction, the Municipality of Piraeus, Pampiraiki Protovoulia gia tous Prosfiges (Piraeus Solidarity for the Refugees), the command of the Hellenic Coast Guard and that of the Hellenic Navy, and last but not least, the Hellenic Ministry of Development, Competitiveness and Shipping. Our main goal, at the beginning of each attempt, is to provide maximum effort in order to cover any empty positions, and then coordinate the cooking process, in order to ensure that there is enough food for everyone (which is extremely hard, as one soon comes to realize)…
We are grateful for the many volunteers, who do their best, without complaining. It is heartwarming to see so many different people, from different paths of life, come together and show respect and solidarity to those who need some support. We thank you from the depths of our hearts, for teaching us so much about generosity, kindness, love and support… We also feel tremendous gratitude towards the volunteers who struggled by our side all those previous years, but due to changes in their lives are currently unable to join our effort, yet still support us. They have left a permanent mark in our soul…