Volunteer in Greece through The Hellenic Initiative
March 18, 2017
Published in Neos Kosmos, 17 March,
The Hellenic Initiative (THI) was founded in the US in 2012, as an effort by the Greek diaspora to assist crisis stricken Greece. Since then it has distributed over US$3.5 million in direct crisis relief and over US$6 million has been allocated to Greek development program funding.
Headed by CEO of Dow Chemical, Andrew Liveris, and with former US president Bill Clinton as its patron, it has garnered the support of many influential individuals around the world.
In 2015 THI’s Australian leg was established. The resulting flagship internship program is now running its second year, offering top Greek graduates and professionals under 30 years of age a six-month internship in an Australian company.
Nick Mitaros, a founding member and director of THI Australia, is proud of the initiative’s track record through the work of organisations such as Boroume, Desmos, and Regeneration.
“We undertook a number of activities associated with THI and visited the crisis relief organisations that are doing some wonderful work in Athens, with the people who are in need at this time,” he told SBS Greek.
Mitaros, who travelled to Greece with his family earlier this year, spent time in a suburban farmers’ market collecting excess food supplies for the needy as part of the Boroume organisation’s volunteer program.
“The response from the stallholders was amazing,” says Mitaros. “What they gave and when they heard that we were Greek Australians and that our children were third-generation Australians, and that they were still prepared to give something back to Greece, the reaction was quite amazing.
“A woman, overhearing we were over from Australia volunteering, bought two dozen eggs out of her own money and donated them to Boroume.”
The Greek people suffered tax hikes and savage wage cuts as well as merciless media coverage which sometimes appeared to brand them as corrupt and lazy, he complained, stressing that in spite of those adversities “Greek people’s spirit remains unbroken… so strong and it’s so resilient that you feel very proud of your Hellenic roots.”
At the end of his interview he encouraged anyone visiting Greece to invest some time in volunteering through THI organisations and programs.