A loving embrace for the children who need care, safety, and protection, above all else, during these trying times, was offered by the ‘Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation’ and the ‘ELPIDA – Association of Friends of Children with Cancer’, which offered their support to five Institutions of Attica.
The initiative was taken by Mrs Vardinoyannis, who wanted to generously provide care and affection to young children who are struggling, by distributing food and necessities to five Attica Institutions, specifically: ‘SOS Children’s Villages’, the Ecclesiastical Orphanage of Vouliagmeni, the Christian Shelter for Girls ‘I Agia Anna’, the Hatzikonsta Foundation for Youth Educational Care, and the ‘Filothei I Athinea’ Girls’ Shelter.
The packages were delivered on Friday 24 April 2020 to SOS Children’s Villages and the Ecclesiastical Orphanage of Vouliagmeni, and on Tuesday 28 April 2020 to the ‘Filothei I Athinea’ Girls’ Shelter, the Hatzikonsta Foundation for Youth Educational Care, and the ‘I Agia Anna’ Christian Shelter for Girls.
Mrs Vardinoyannis’ support, however, was not just limited to sending goods; she went a step further and talked with the heads of all the Foundations via Skype, in order to give them strength and imbue them with optimism. In an emotional atmosphere, Mrs Vardinoyannis exchanged words from the heart, words of love and hope, with everyone.
Mrs Vardinoyannis expressed her gratitude to the medical and nursing staff of Greece while speaking with the President of ‘SOS Children’s Villages’ and Professor of General Internal Medicine and Oncology at University of Athens, Constantinos Syrigos, who is also a doctor at ‘I Sotiria’ hospital.
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: Besides my thanks and congratulations for everything you do for the children at ‘SOS Children’s Villages’, which is truly important work, I would like to congratulate you for the work you have been doing at the ‘I Sotiria’ Hospital throughout this period. You are a hero. And I would like, through your person, to express my congratulations and limitless admiration for all the doctors and nurses, for all their incredible work. You have touched my heart and as a Greek I feel gratitude for everything you do. As far as the children are concerned, I will not abandon you even for a moment. Everything that arrived was just an initial show of support. No matter what you need, what needs may arise, do not hesitate to contact me. I have dedicated my life to the children. I feel that God has blessed me with a loving family, the only thing I ever asked for in my life, and I feel that I must pay back this blessing to society.
Constantinos Syrigos: Thank you for everything you said regarding the Hospital. Everything that happens at ‘Sotiria’ is the result of teamwork. There are a lot of us working together. My role is simply to help coordinate.
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: Through you I would like to express my gratitude to everyone. The work you do is great. You are our heroes, the nursing staff and the doctors. Right now, people should come first. I have personally suspended all activities, such as the national Anniversary for the 2500 years since the Battles of Salamis, and at the moment I am putting humanitarian work above all else; supporting all our fellow people who are in need. And when it is all over, then we will honour our ancestors.
Constantinos Syrigos: This decision is brave and moving, and comes at a great personal cost. And I would like to thank you for putting people before this important anniversary. It is very important.
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: People must be above all else. This is the principle I taught my children, people come first. Know that I will be here for anything you need. I send all my love to the children.
Constantinos Syrigos: It is very important that at such moments when all of society is being tried, you thought of the SOS Children’s Villages, our children. And you sent food and other personal protection items in this very large donation of yours, which we will utilise and use to secure the safety of the children, as we slowly reopen as a society. What you sent us will help a lot, beyond its symbolic value, it has a very substantial real value. Know that we will utilise your donation and that the children will be very happy. We thank you!
Mrs Vardinoyannis referred to the work of His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos, who is the President of the Ecclesiastical Orphanage of Vouliagmeni, during her conversation with the Director of the Ecclesiastical Orphanage of Vouliagmeni, Mr Apostolos Kouroumichakis:
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: I am glad to be in contact with you and I pray that during these trying days, which are unprecedented for us all, both you and the children you are caring for are safe. From the very first moment of the pandemic outbreak, my thoughts have been with institutions that are hosting children. The Ecclesiastical Orphanage of Vouliagmeni, with which we have been working through the ‘ELPIDA’ Association, has had a place in my heart for years. Its operation is another expression of the love and care of His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Mr Ieronymos, towards the orphans that find a new home, warmth, and care there. As a Greek I feel gratitude towards His Beatitude for his struggles in the godly work he is doing as President of the Orphanage. At the same time, this is the one hundredth year of operation of the Orphanage, and that makes me proud as a Greek, as it succeeded in overcoming difficulties, wars, conflict, and remained standing. Currently, your Orphanage is flying the humanitarian flag high for all to see in one of the most beautiful locations in Attica, and I am sure that it will overcome this crisis of the pandemic, too. As President of the ‘ELPIDA’ Association and our Foundation, I would like to express my support and send His Beatitude, the Board of Directors, and the entire staff my most heartfelt wishes. Wishes for strength and success in all the efforts you are making under such unfavourable conditions. May God grant you the health and courage to complete your important work.
Apostolos Kouroumichakis: Thank you very much for everything you do for the children. We are grateful. We are well aware of your cooperation with His Beatitude and President of our Institution, and we know that your contribution today is the fruit of that cooperation.
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: You don’t have to thank me. It is my obligation to do this for the children. We should all contribute as much as we can during these trying times. We are all united and above all else we must remain human. I will be at your side for whatever you need. Please pass on my warmest thanks to His Beatitude. I am glad that my husband and I can contribute to his great work.
Mrs Vardinoyannis had a warm and intimate conversation with the President of the Christian Shelter for Girls ‘I Agia Anna’, Ms Evangelia Paleologou:
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: I would like to congratulate you and your Board of Directors for your important work. What you do is truly a calling and I cannot find the words to express my admiration and appreciation for you and the work you have been doing for so long, helping these young girls that have made a place for themselves in my heart and mind. Once, at a Christmas celebration during which you were with us, because ‘ELPIDA’ and ‘Agia Anna’ have long standing ties, I remember we painted, played with the little girls, and made paper stars. Their bright smiles, their hearts, the sweet emotions I felt that day, have all been imprinted on my mind and heart forever. I miss you. I would like to be at your side during these difficult times. To hold you, embrace you and the girls tightly. I pray that this will all be over soon so we can meet in person again.
Evangelia Paleologou: Thank you for everything, Mrs Vardinoyannis. You and your volunteer work and contribution to society are a shining example for us all. We follow on a smaller scale and contribute what we can so that even just one child can be happy and enter society without mental trauma.
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: The work you do is holy and I admire you for sacrifice. I will be at your side for whatever you need. My admiration for you is limitless and I would like to be with you.
Evangelia Paleologou: You are always with us and we always hope for your help. We thank you! The Board of Directors, the staff, and the children! When the girls see the help you send, they smile!
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: Give them a big hug from me and all my love, and, God willing, we will soon see each other in person!
Mrs Vardinoyannis had a heartfelt conversation with the President of the Hatzikonsta Foundation for Youth Educational Care, Ms Margarita Panagiotopoulou:
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: I would like to congratulate you and the Foundation’s Board of Directors for the wonderful work you do. You are truly worthy people, who, during these trying times, are making the effort to help children in need. It is a special pleasure for me to be talking to you, and I would like to wish you strength and courage, and, all together, we shall overcome.
Margarita Panagiotopoulou: I would like to thank ‘ELPIDA’ and you personally, because these times are truly trying, especially for children who are a vulnerable group and who require care and affection. Thank you for your contribution which is very important, because we also support the families of children that are not at the Foundation. So you are providing us with the opportunity to give them more ways of dealing with this difficult crisis and situation. We hope that Greece will emerge from these difficult conditions, and that the children will return to their school and social life.
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: I would like to express my admiration for the important work you have been doing for 160 years. You are worthy of following in the footsteps of those who came before you. This Foundation is helping generously during these trying times. Know that you have my support. In fact, we have been working for many years with the ELPIDA Shelter and we are also aware of the difficulties you have been facing, just as we have been facing them with our children, which belong in vulnerable groups. Throughout this period I wake up every morning, my heart racing, and I call our Hospital to see how the children are. I know you do the same. You are all heroes for everything you provide the children with. I pray that this nightmare we are all experiencing ends soon, and that it makes us better people, because it was a message to all of us that we must be united and that health is above all else, for us and for our fellow people. I send you all my love and I hope that we will be able to meet in person soon. I am at your side. I send all my love to the children. I would like you to pass on my love and appreciation to your staff. They are the heroes and the stars. Their dedication is obvious at our Hospital, too. During these times, everyday people have given us strength and courage with their behaviour. It is important to have people supporting you. You choose to become a scientist and you do it, however, being a good person is something you are born with.
Mrs Vardinoyannis had an emotional talk full of love with the President of ‘Filothei I Athinea’ Girls’ Shelter President Ms Ourania Pantazi:
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: You are constantly on my mind in these trying times. I have been observing your work and I would like to express my admiration and appreciation for everything you do.
Ourania Pantazi: We all thank you very much. It is with your love and the love of everyone that we move forward. I would like to thank you for everything you sent us, lots of important necessities, and especially for the fact that you are there, making all Greeks and all of Greece proud. We feel pride in your person. May God keep you healthy.
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: It is my debt, as it is everyone’s, to think of my country. I am moved just speaking with you and being given the opportunity to express my admiration for everything you do for the girls, for caring for them and protecting them. In these trying times, you cannot imagine how often I think of you. I wish you strength. Don’t lose heart. I will be at your side for whatever you need.
The donation from the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation was made with funds that had been earmarked for the Foundation’s actions for the ‘Thermopylae – Salamis 2020’ Anniversary Year, which will be used in full to support vulnerable groups, as announced recently.
ELPIDA’s contribution is being funded by the Association’s Social Solidarity Fund for 2020, in support of vulnerable groups impacted by the pandemic crisis.