The hosting shelter for unaccompanied minor refugees of the AMKE of the Church of Greece “Synyparxis” in Aspropyrgos was visited this morning by the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, Mr. Ieronymos.
The Archbishop was welcomed by the Chairman of the Steering Committee of AMKE “Synyparxis- Ecumenical Refugee Program”, Metropolitan of Iliou, Acharnes and Petroupolis Mr. Athenagoras, Metropolitan of Megara and Salamina Mr. Konstantinos and General Director of AMKE Archimandrite Panteleimon Papasynefakis. The Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Mr. Notis Mitarakis, the Deputy Minister, Ms. Sofia Voultepsi, the Mayor of Aspropyrgos, Mr. Nikolaos Meletiou, Mr. Heraklis Moskof, Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors, Ms. Mary Pini, Director of KE.S.O. of I.A.A.. The Archbishop was accompanied by Archdeacon Ioannis Boutsis.
A greeting was delivered by the Metropolitan of Iliou, who referred to the history, the work and the actions of the shelter of “Synyparxis”. He spoke about the knowledge that the children acquire, but also about the care of all the partners and contributors who feel the space as home.
In his greeting, the Archbishop expressed his joy at being in the shelter in question and wished everyone health and that the conditions we live in will be better by the day. He spoke about the problems caused by wars and uprooting, and shared with the children the corresponding experiences and sorrows he lived through when he was their age. He spoke about the cooperation of the competent services of the State with the Church, so that the conditions are as good as possible, and to offer the children supplies that will help them on their way, in the future. Furthermore, he also invited the children to consult their teachers who love them and wished them to always be in good health and fill their hearts with patience and fighting spirit and may God help them realize the good dreams they have in mind.
Afterward, Mrs. Voultepsi addressed a greeting, which, among other things, referred to the good cooperation that the ministry has with the Steering Committee of “Synyparxis”. He thanked the Archbishop for the operation of the shelters, which, as he said, is exemplary. He also spoke about the need to learn the Greek language, so that children can cope with any demands. At this point, Father Panteleimon referred to the effort to learn the language, emphasizing that it is necessary for integration and that all children attend public schools, while in the shelters there are teachers who provide remedial teaching.
The Mayor of Aspropyrgos also addressed a greeting, who spoke about the operation of the shelter and pledged that the shelters of the Municipality will contribute to the work of “Synyparxis”.
Immediately after, a short celebratory event was held, and then the children offered the Archbishop as a gift a painting painted by one of them, depicting a woman gazing at the snow-capped mountains of Afghanistan and birds flying high, symbolizing freedom. Afterward, the Archbishop distributed souvenir gifts to all the children. The event was coordinated by the Director of AMKE Fr. Panteleimon Papasynefakis, who, among other things, emphasized that “it is important for these children to learn and participate in our traditions in addition to creating a safe environment for them in which they can live”.
After the event, the Archbishop, speaking to journalists, referred to the shelters, but also to these children who have come alone to our country and emphasized that “we should not think about where they come from, nor what they believe. What they need right now is to find love and rest, and the Church will do that without discrimination. He will stand by them. Of course, not only the Church, but also the State and spoke about the good cooperation that exists with the state agencies, so that these children can smile as well. “This joint effort is bearing fruit” the Archbishop noted and added that “in such an event, beyond national considerations and religious positions, is love. The love that our Christ taught us, that is born in a few days, for every person, because without love life has no meaning”.
The organization aims to advocate for justice, dignity and human rights of immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and Greek returnees. Also, to monitor and study the migration phenomenon and asylum in order to design, conduct and implement programs to provide support services (e.g. legal and social counseling and support) to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, helping them to cope their needs. At the same time, the purpose of AMKE is to cultivate and promote a mutual intercultural understanding, as well as the acceptance and respect of “otherness”, through the undertaking of information and awareness activities.
Report for Church Radio: Makis Adamopoulos
From the Press Office of the Archdiocese of Athens.