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 and after having a few issues, we ended up at the crossroad of death: the junction between Sofokleous St. & Menandrοu St.. This is how it all began. In the meantime, we started offering support to inmates in Greek prisons more frequently and systematically.
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.
After many years, and even though our standard of living has decreased dramatically, we still offer, on a regular basis. our help to homeless, immigrants and most of all children who scrape a living outside in the cold, under the uncaring eye of society. At this point we need to note that during these last years, the number of homeless Greeks has increased. Our goal is to raise awareness among Greeks, in order for all of us to stand together by the side of those in need. We believe that through the collaboration of private non-profit bodies, cooperatives, supermarkets, churches and state authorities, we can all contribute meaningfully. Our greatest aspiration and desire, is to find a permanent shelter for the homeless of our city. This is a matter of utmost concern to us, and we wish to find a solution through collaboration with other organizations.
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.
The founders of PLISION are Christians, who decided to act after drawing inspiration by the simple life and words of Jesus Christ, who loves all humans without exceptions, without prerequisites towards their culture, religion, nationality, beliefs and behavior, and invites every one of us to live a similar life of providing love and support to our fellow humans, regardless of their religion, nationality and behavior (1), while our volunteers come from different ideological backgrounds. We are touched, all these years, by the kindness and love shown by people outside of the Christian belief, who offer without expecting any kind of reward in this or any other life. Our presence these last years on the streets, helped shape us and our perceptions. The abandonment of any and all kinds of ideological or religious “pillows”, has brought changes in our lives, as we now see that reality is different from what we see in the TV, or through the safety zone of our private lives. The only prerequisite, in order for one to cooperate with us is to show respect towards the personality, culture, ideology and religion of our fellow human. During our tours, we give food, clothes, blankets and love, to those in need.
We believe that in doing so, we offer valuable service to our country, as well as all the Greeks and Christians who live in Muslim countries. We show respect, love and care equally to all Christians, Muslims and Atheists, without any desire to change their beliefs by taking advantage of the predicament they’re in.
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.
Sometimes, as we discuss with economic migrants and refugees who, in their majority are Muslims, they feel honored and touched by the fact that we let them speak, not only for their troubles, but also about their beliefs. As we form bonds with these people and share opinions, one can see that it is really beautiful to hear them say (tearful, most of the times), that they pray so that God can keep us safe. And when they ask, what should they do for us, and invite us to visit the countries they come from and to which they plan to return, we get the opportunity to ask that they only do to US, as we did to them. Show their love and care to any Greek, any Christian, in their neighborhoods. Many of them, assure us that they will do so. Many of them, have already returned to their countries. Some of them managed to move into other European countries. Most of them, stay in touch with us, by sending messages of love and gratitude.
If through our actions, if by showing our LOVE here, we manage to make life easier for even one Greek, even one Christian, in these countries, then, we believe that this is a very important matter, which can reduce, even to the slightest, the tensions and hate in our world. That, will be a great gain for all of mankind. In this era of hate and insensitivity, we show another face of Greece, another civilization, another culture, and we are glad that we’re not alone in this. Hundreds of our compatriots, through other organizations, do the same. We are very grateful for that. It is beautiful, when sometimes at night, we meet volunteers from other organizations, and share our thoughts with each-other while drinking a cup of hot tea or warm soup…
It is also very important for us, to be seen in action by both homeless and drug addicts. Fellowship and support during the cold winter nights is valuable, and we do the best we can, however little it may be. We show respect to our fellow humans; we never publish pictures with their faces (and that is why most of our photos are blurry). For us, regardless of the reasons they’ve lost their way temporarily, they are still friends, respected, valuable friends.
Many times we’ve acted without anyone knowing who we are. We deliver food and clothing to hospitals, churches, institutions and on the streets, without giving information on our identity. Our campaigns during the cold winter nights, offer breathtaking revelations to all who participate.
In an room especially designed for that, we gather almost a hundred people, often kids and babies (!), where they eat warm food and dessert that we cook with love. (2)
None of us is getting paid for what we do, and we’ve never accepted any kind of governmental funding and we all offer what we can, according to the needs, on a voluntary basis. Many friends have offered us all the help they could give. Our main supporter, all these years, is an old Greek who grew at an orphanage after, one night during the Nazi occupation, he saw his father die of starvation, right in front of him. He stood by our side from the very beginning and we are grateful for his help, and all the help offered by everyday people and companies, who offer us food and clothing.
We want to help, so that all people living in the fringe of society, become accepted.
Any help towards these people, as well as the refugees, is valuable, in our opinion. We believe that this is a commodity that reflects back to the society.
We acknowledge that the refugee crisis is a serious problem, that should be dealt with all due respect by Greece, while in the meantime, we do our best to stand with love and care, by the side of those affected, and especially women and children.
Acceptance of people living in the fringe is, on our opinion, a one-way ride that requires simultaneous action from both Church and State. We also believe that immigrants should get to feel that they are accepted and loved, for as long as they stay in our country. They should also be able to be integrated in our society, if they meet the requirements. Although challenges and poverty are these days on an unprecedented high, we will keep the good fight for as long as we can…
We know that our contribution is small, but we are doing the best we can and feel the utmost respect towards any attempt, by any organization, to improve the quality of life of our fellow humans, and we also encourage all visitors of this website, to help any organization they believe that contributes to this out of selflessness.
We can improve the lives of our fellow humans. Let’s all start by doing something small…
Let’s wipe a tear. It’s a start. For you, for me. It is important.
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, at Galatsi Olympic Center and at Piraeus Port.
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…
1 But love ye your enemies, and do good […] for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil (KJB Luk. 6: 35) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (KJB Mat. 5:45)
2 Lately we do not have a place where we can provide our meals, so we work on the streets, prisons, refugee camps and places where drug-addicts gather.
3 We add excerpts to this text as years go by…