Category Archives: Blog

Greek NGOs Work Hard to Support Unaccompanied Migrant Children

In recent years, irregular entry of migrants into Greece – many of whom are from the Middle East – is an issue that Greek authorities have been working hard to bring under control. Unaccompanied children and youths make up a good number of the new arrivals and, with the country still working to find stability after a devastating financial crisis, systems for protecting minors are not entirely adequate.

According to a human rights report, more than 1,900 unaccompanied children arrived in Greece in early 2016 alone, with more than half under the age of 14. Social services such as psychological care, guardianship and language training are taken up by civil society organisations, many that are constrained by lack of funds.

Children who are separated from their caregivers are more susceptible to abuse, exploitation and neglect. As vulnerable members of society, it is the shared responsibility of governments, citizens and non-profit organisations to protect and care for unaccompanied minors, which is an obligation captured by the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child. It is with this in mind that several organisations in Greece have teamed together to fund a programme to address the issue of unaccompanied and separated children.

Various European public interest groups, led by the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM), the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, and the Bodossaki Foundation, among others, have come together in an initiative called “Never Alone – Building our future with children and youth arriving in Europe.”

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, which has Greek businessman Spiro Latsis as an executive member, was established in 2005 to continue the charitable works of its founder, John S. Latsis. The Foundation has put public benefit at the forefront of its work by funding and managing programs aimed at improving various aspects of Greek society, including health, education, science and culture.

The EPIM fund is designed to offer assistance to civil society organisations that will focus their attention on three important aspects:

  1. Building secure networks and structures that aid the identification process of unaccompanied and separated minors.
  2. Providing protection mechanisms that improve guardianship systems for these children.
  3. Raising awareness among the public on issues that affect unaccompanied minors and increasing support towards youth programs.

The overall goal of the projects, funded to the tune of 450,000 Euros over a two-year period, will be to ensure the children who make the highly-risky journey into Greece have access to information and services such as accommodation and protection. It’s the aim of the various groups working together to see that the migrant children and youths have access to high-quality medical, psychological, social and legal support that will help them integrate into the Greek society.

Continuing Efforts

Helping unaccompanied and separated children find new life in Greece is one of the humanitarian aspects of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. In 2015, the Foundation opened an Accommodation Centre for Unaccompanied Minors that addressed the need to provide quality accommodation to minors who have lived in detention centres for long periods. Along with proper housing, the Accommodation Centre also provides legal counselling, mediation services, Greek language courses, and psychosocial support to its residents.

When it comes to child welfare, the Foundation has focused on initiatives that improve and increase the provision of social services to children. It has funded some initiatives, including paediatric clinics, heating fuel programmes for orphanages, and meeting the core costs of risk youth centres and children’s hospices. Since many child welfare organisations struggle to raise finances to keep going, the Foundation continually strives to support them.

While Greek legislation has provisions for the temporary appointment of guardians, the growing number of minors has put a strain on public workers’ caseloads and, since the number of daily actions that require a guardian’s consent are many, the absence of a special guardians body has made it all the more necessary for charitable foundations to step in and assist however they can. It’s a gap that the civil society has shown a willingness to cover, as evidenced by the actions of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and others.

Based on the experience of the involved foundations and additional research, the potential for improved knowledge and practical solutions grows. Through the project, caregiving staff will get to interact with the children and youths and possibly uncover some of the reasons behind their journeys; an issue of concern in many European countries. A policy brief from this can address the political reasons, with the increased awareness helping Greece and other member states to address issues of neglect and exploitation of children and youths.

 

Celebrating Greek Culture at the Museum of Prehistoric Thira

Greece is a country full of diverse cultures and interests. Visitors to the country have plenty to see and experience, from the food and language to religion and archaeological sites. The Greek people are proud of their country and go to great lengths to highlight the aspects that define their nation. It’s against this backdrop that the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has worked to preserve and promote the country’s cultural heritage. Through funding programmes directed at culture, the Foundation has helped Greek citizens enjoy history through The Museums Cycle publishing programme.

The Museums Cycle is a volume published yearly that documents an archaeological museum, capturing the aesthetics qualities and scientific validity of a particular institution. In doing so, this programme has helped contribute to the body of knowledge regarding Greek culture. While these yearly volumes are not sold, they are made available without charge to public institutions such as libraries and universities.

In December 2016, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation – named after the father of Greek businessman Spiro Latsis – unveiled a volume on Prehistoric Thira, which is based on archaeologist Christos Doumas’ work at the Akrotiri excavation site. The launch was attended by members of the Greek archaeological community and representatives from the ‘Culture & Sports’ and ‘Education, Research and Religious Affairs’ ministries.

More specifically, the volume provides insights into the Akrotiri archaeological site, whose many findings can be found at the Museum of Prehistoric Thira. More importantly, the book displays for the first-time murals restored from private homes and public buildings in the Akrotiri settlement, artistic works that were not previously made public at the museum. Exquisite paintings, such as a 4-metre long mural that once belonged to a private home and a painting depicting a traditional initiation rite, are part of the works featured.

Mrs Marianna Latsis, daughter to the late John S. Latsis, had the honour of writing the preface to the 2016 volume. In her remarks, she commended the work done by the Museum of Prehistoric Thira in preserving an invaluable piece of Greek history, while also acknowledging the role the book played in bringing to light knowledge and artistry that had been hidden in the excavation site. Distinguished guests allowed to speak at the unveiling of the book also spoke glowingly about its unique place among other Museums Cycle volumes, noting it conveyed aspects of Aegean history brilliantly.

The author of the 2016 publication, Christos Doumas, was quick to thank the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation for its desire to shed more light on the ancient Akrotiri site. He noted that the release of the publication coincided with the  50th anniversary in 2017 of the site’s excavation work, much of which has been put on display at the Museum of Prehistoric Thira. The publication made it possible to trace the history and get a picture of progress on the site.

Prehistoric Thira

Located on the island of Santorini, the Museum of Prehistoric Thira was built on the site on an old church that was destroyed by an earthquake. Early excavation on the location started as far back as 1867 when a French geologist acted on the findings of local people at a nearby quarry. Other archaeologists have been interested in the site, but the main excavation work has been directed by the Archaeological Society of Athens.

Much of the Museum’s displays focus on ancient Akrotiri, going as far back as 3300 B.C. Artefacts from this early period are presented chronologically, and includes jewelry, paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. Early Cycladic pottery is a highlight among historians, as are objects from the Late Cycladic periods (a time in Greek history that featured the use of pure white marbles, and later, bronze). The site has attracted visitors during its excavation period, thanks to the rare artefacts that can be found there.S.Latsis-Misc.Prehistoric

Supporting Greek Culture

The Latsis Group has supported archaeological museums across the country with the help of the Eurobank Banking Group since 1997. The Foundation has seen it necessary to extend its public benefit initiatives to preserving Greek culture through financial support and development initiatives such as the Museums Cycle publications.

Founded in 2005 to continue the philanthropic legacy of John S. Latsis, the Foundation has collaborated with various partners to help the advancement of initiatives in a broad range of sectors, including health, social welfare, the environment, science and education. From providing research grants and academic scholarships to leading the fight against food insecurity and the promotion of children’s rights, the Foundation has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Greek citizens. The Foundation believes in highlighting the country’s cultural wealth as much as it can, and has implemented a framework for identifying charitable projects to support.

The Neraida Floating Museum

The Neraida Floating Museum was commissioned by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation; a non-profit organisation founded in 2005 to continue the charitable work of John S. Latsis. The Neraida was originally a passenger boat that was bought by John Latsis in 1949 as an addition to his shipping business. The vessel was in use for nearly 25 years before it was decommissioned at the Eleusis port for over 3 decades. The Latsis family never considered turning the Neraida into scrap and under the supervision of John’s son, Spiro Latsis, it was transported to Croatia in September 2007 for restoration and its conversion into the floating museum it is today.

When he purchased the Neraida, John S. Latsis was steadily growing his stock as an astute businessman. He had interests in many sectors of the economy, including shipping, petroleum refining, banking, construction and agriculture. As his business interests expanded, so did his benevolence towards the less fortunate amongst Greek society. Among his first acts of charity was the establishment of a scholarship foundation to help students from his home region.

Between 1986 and 1995, a series of earthquakes struck the areas of Pyrgos, Kalamata and Grevena. Recognising the need to help wounded and displaced Greek residents, John Latsis contributed extensively towards the recovery efforts. Various agencies such as the Seamen’s Pension Fund and the Hellenic Fire Brigade received substantial donations to help their efforts towards the affected people. For his considerate nature, John Latsis was presented with numerous awards and honours. He lived a full life, with his compassionate character passing on to his family upon his death in April 2003.

Two years later, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation was established. Since its inception, it has taken on various programmes aimed at meeting the current needs of society. Specifically, the foundation has managed and funded plans that touch on numerous fields, including science, health, education, the environment, culture and social welfare. The Neraida Floating Museum is a diversified branch of the foundation’s activities, with its purpose being to highlight Greece’s maritime history and to host public benefit events.

Through the leadership of Supervisory and Executive Boards, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation oversees programmes that bring positive social change. Additionally, it also provides grants in cases of emergency relief and has numerous initiatives that seek to develop and reward academic research and infrastructural and community development.

The Symplefsi Group Sponsors the “Diaplous 2016” Event

The Symplefsi Group Sponsors the “Diaplous 2016” Event

The Symplefsi (or +plefsi) group is a non-profit organisation that supports people living in the outlying Greek islands by helping to improve the overall living conditions. Since its inception, the group has made various efforts to help the inhabitants of these islands. In 2016, the organisation was part of the Diaplous 2016 event, which focused on crossing the Aegean Sea to take supplies and equipment to schools on 9 islands located in Greece’s border regions.

Specifically, Diaplous 2016 focused on using funds donated by the Neraida Floating Museum to provide schools with electronic and educational equipment, including projectors and computers. The museum is an initiative of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, which is overseen by Greek businessman Spiro Latsis, amongst others. Additionally, the learning institutions also received furniture (tables, bookshelves, seats), educational games and consumable items. Prior communication between schools and the Symplefsi group helped to determine the type of gifts that would be fully utilised by the schools.S.Latsis-Misc

The cause saw 80 volunteers sign up to donate the equipment to the schools; with their efforts requiring the use of 11 inflatable boats. The entire event spanned across 11 days, with volunteers visiting the islands of Agathonisi, Arki, Kimolos, Lipsi, Levita, Patmos, Schinousa, Sikinos, and Folegandros. The schools’ students were also presented with children’s book displays, photographic exhibitions and a workshop to discourage smoking.

Symplefsi’s activities are purely voluntary, with much of its work focused on providing free medical examinations and improving infrastructure in local communities. The 2016 event saw many major infrastructure programmes launched across the 9 islands.

The Spiritual and Cultural Center on the isle of Patmos was equipped with air conditioners, audio equipment, chairs, offices and a library. Agathonisi benefited from a new rubbish truck, necessary for improved waste collection efforts on the island. In Sikinos, an emergency evacuation vehicle, fitted with modern ambulance systems, was donated to help transfer people in need of hospitalisation. In addition to these donations, more than 40 specialist doctors were on hand to conduct medical tests to more than 1,100 residents, with almost 500 blood samples collected for further testing. After analysis, the specialist doctors were able to advise local doctors on how to proceed with individual cases.

Building for the Future: Supporting the Renovations of an Iconic Athens Outpatients Clinic

After three years of hard work from a number of dedicated parties, renovations of the outpatient clinic at the Panagiotis and Aglaia Kyriakou General Children’s Hospital in Athens were completed in June 2016. A key factor in the success of the initiative was the support contributed from a selection of non-profit organisations, including the renowned John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. Only too happy to be a part of the valuable renovations, the foundation provided much-needed research and funding that helped bring the project to life.

About the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation

Established in 2005, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is a non-profit organisation that was launched to continue the legacy of John S. Latsis. Born into a large family with little money, John was required to work from an early age as a means of contributing to the family home. He quickly transformed into an avid and skilled entrepreneur and his successful business activities extended over seven decades across a huge range of industries. The consistency of his dedication to his work did not falter even whilst raising his three children; Marianna, Margarita and Spiro Latsis. Alongside his entrepreneurial on goings, John also set up a number of public benefit initiatives with the aim of giving back to his community and Greece as a whole.

As part of its mission, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation plans, manages and funds a wide range of initiatives, including health and social welfare and cultural and environmental projects. The foundation continually aims to remain in sync with current social needs and has a particularly strong desire to support children’s needs in key areas including health, education and creative activities. This desire was what drove the organisation to become involved with the renovations of the outpatients clinic at the Panagiotis and Aglaia Kyriakou General Children’s Hospital in Athens. The hospital works closely with young people to promote fast recovery within a positive atmosphere. The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation recognised the hospital’s vision and provided help and support throughout the project.

Delivering Vital Renovations

As a part of the project, a number of studies were funded by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. These studies revealed the extent to which the hospital required renovations to ensure the high level of care provided could continue in the future. According to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, another organisation that contributed to the project, the general hospital has treated many serious cases concerning ill children from all over Greece over its twenty years in operation: the hospital accommodates a total of 12,000 cases annually. In addition, the hospital is the only facility that trains medical students during their final years of study at the University of Athens Medical School, making it unique in its field. It is these impressive credentials that made it even more important and desirable for the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation to be a part of this significant project.

Once the project was complete, the renovated section of the outpatients clinic was inaugurated on 24th June 2016. Carried out over three years, the construction was funded by the LIDL HELLAS company in collaboration with the NGO Anichti Angalia, who co-ordinated the project. The renovations included the construction of a much-needed pharmacy, alongside the additional space needed to accommodate the requirements of the hospital’s outpatients clinic. Based on the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation’s funded research, the renovations were also specifically intended to be practical when handling large numbers of patients, whilst also retaining a friendly and welcoming environment for young patients. The hospital also received brand new clinics, a lobby, waiting area and shower areas within the Endocrinology department. Additionally, within the housing department, two new sites were created for housing structure clinics aimed at rehabilitating abused children.

Spiro Latsis

Looking Ahead

According to the board of directors at the hospital, every party involved with the renovations are now looking forward to a brighter future for the children who visit the hospital. Specifically, the hospital’s spokespeople have thanked all organisations involved in helping to make the project a reality.

Commenting on the finished renovations, Mariogka Fragaki, Board Chairman, said, “The Board of Directors of the Children’s Hospital Panagiotis & Aglaia Kyriakou express their sincere thanks to LIDL HELLAS and Mrs. Yolanda Vlachos, President of Friends of Social Paediatrics and Medicine, whose love and concern drove LIDL HELLAS in this important sponsorship”.

She added, “LIDL HELLAS’s sponsorship and the study donated by the Latsis Foundation, helped to create an appropriate area for regular outpatient clinics that will now serve an even greater number of children”.

Major Donors to Greek College Honored

Since its establishment in 1886, Anatolia College in Thessaloniki, Greece, has paved the way for high-quality education. A private, non-profit educational institution, the college has grown in bounds to encompass three subdivisions: The American College of Thessaloniki (ACT), Anatolia High School and Anatolia Elementary. The school owes its progress to the close working relationship between American and Greek educational stakeholders and generous contributions from donors.

Anatolia College is committed to helping students develop their talents by providing innovative educational solutions. The school aims to help as many students as possible, regardless of financial circumstance. One of its core goals is to impact the wider society by building lasting partnerships that help in the development of socially responsible initiatives. This target aligns well with the work of donors, many of whom like to contribute towards public benefit initiatives.

Anatolia College’s donors play an important role that the school sought to recognise on 3rd June 2016 during a special ceremony. Amongst the donors acknowledged for their contributions was the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, named after the late philanthropic businessman by the same name. At the ceremony, the Foundation was honoured with the Carl C. Compton award, which is named after the institution’s fifth president.

Spiro Latsis

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the late John S. Latsis; a Greek businessman who was respected for his business acumen and numerous acts of charity. He embraced hard work from a young age and established a business empire that included interests in construction, banking, agricultural goods and petroleum. John never shied from helping his countrymen through public benefit initiatives and it was in this spirit that his family – Henrietta (wife); Spiro, Marianna and Margarita (children) – established the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation in 2005, two years after he passed away.

The Foundation works with various organisations and civil society partners in Greece to fund and manage initiatives across a number of fields including health, science, education, environment and social welfare. A Supervisory Board, of which Spiro Latsis is a member, and an Executive Board oversee the work of the Foundation. In addition to driving programs that bring social benefit, the Foundation has also taken up grant-making activity to prioritise emergency relief for citizens. Additionally, capacity building, academic and research reward, infrastructural improvement and community development remain amongst the Foundation’s objectives.

Family business

After the death of John S. Latsis, Spiro Latsis took over the management of his father’s business interests. Whilst the family still maintains a presence in the shipping industry, much of the wealth has been redirected to other sectors. There are stakes in oil, real estate and investment banking. Spiro Latsis has three degrees from the London School of Economics and is an Honorary Fellow and Member of the Court of Governors of the London School of Economics.

 

Anatolia College: Brief History

Anatolia College was founded in 1886 as a theological seminary and was originally called the Anatolia College of Mersovan. Charles Tracy served as the seminary’s president, with many of the students being Greek and Armenian. The faculty included American teachers, thanks to the work of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, which established its presence decades before.

In the 1920’s, Anatolia college was reopened in Thessaloniki, with rented buildings in Harilaou serving the school’s needs. The Mission School for Girls in Thessaloniki also became a part of Anatolia and in 1934, the college moved to a new campus. At the turn of World War II, the school was closed and used as a military hospital and later on, was occupied by German forces. It wasn’t until after the war ended that the school reopened and through the support of the community, established itself as a strong learning institution.

The original element of Anatolia College is Anatolia High School, which provides education in accordance with the Greek Ministry of Education. The high school curriculum is taught in Greek, except for courses in Art, Computers and English. The American College of Thessaloniki is the tertiary division and is recognised by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Undergraduate programs at ACT are also accredited by the Open University in the UK.

Anatolia Elementary formally opened its doors in 2005 and features a kindergarten and elementary school.

Some prominent Greek personalities have passed through Anatolia College. Gikas Hardouvelis, who graduated in 1973, is the current Minister of Finance in Greece. The Mayor of Thessaloniki, Yiannis Boutaris, is also an alumnus of the institution, having graduated in 1960. The former CEO of Titan America, Aris Papadopoulos, is another famous figure associated with Anatolia.

Keeping Children Safe Whilst Playing Water Sports

From thrilling water sports to fascinating marine biology, the seas around us are an invaluable resource for fun, education, and relaxation. But the water can also be extremely dangerous. In Europe, various water sporting activities can be the cause for up to 47,000 injuries every year according to research by Child Safety Europe.

The Aegean Sea is a desirable and popular holiday destination: with its stunning collection of nearly 6000 islands, it is an ideal location to indulge in water sporting activities. Entrepreneur Spiro Latsis – a board member of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation – is entirely dedicated to improving water safety so that children can continue to enjoy the aquatic fun attainable in Greece. In order to help improve safety for visitors and locals, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation ran a presentation on Safe Water Sports’ educational initiatives on board the Neraida Floating Museum.

Safe Water Sports is a Greek non-profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness about water safety. Through a range of educational activities, Safe Water Sports is hoping to protect thousands of beach visitors from needless accidents.

Spiro Latsis

Following the successful and informative event at the Neraida Floating Museum, here are four of the main educational activities that were presented to keep children safe at sea:

I Pay Attention-I Learn-I Care

“I Pay Attention-I Learn-I Care” is an educational program brought to schools in collaboration with Greece’s Coast Guard Directorate of the Port Police. The program introduces children to essential information about water safety. The material has been adaptably designed in order to be accessible by children of any age ranging from the first year of Primary School, to the third year of Junior High School. The program is run every school year between March and June and next year, will be presented to 350 schools, reaching 30-50,000 pupils.

Diligence from parents can often be just as important as educating children about water safety. Therefore, when the “I Pay Attention-I Learn-I Care” program visits schools, there will also be a presentation day available for parents to learn more about the project and the organisation’s initiatives.

By teaching children water safety at an early age, Spiro Latsis hopes that accidents can be prevented in the long term.

Octopus Seif and the Three Sea-Guards

Coinciding with extensive in-class educational packages, Safe Water Sports has also launched a brand new book by writer Vangelis Iliopoulos. Vangelis Iliopoulos is a popular and much loved Grecian children’s author who, since 1995, has released dozens of children’s books and now acts as the Board Chair of the eminent Circle of the Greek Children’s Book. In connection with the Safe Water Sports program, Iliopoulos has written “Octopus Seif and the Three Sea-Guards” as an engaging tool to teach children important water safety lessons in an entertaining, yet valuable way.

Water Sport Safety Videos

Whilst a fairy-tale book might engage the imaginations of younger children, Safe Water Sports has also presented a range of exciting and informative films to reach older age groups.

By enlisting the help of famous sportsmen, such as Olympic Windsurfing Gold Medallist Nikolas Kaklamanakis, the organisation has created a collection of high octane sports videos. The videos provide invaluable safety information, as well as generating excitement, which will inspire people to take part in water sports whilst ensuring they take the recommended safety precautions.

Safe Water Sports Website and Mobile App

Safe Water Sports has designed an informative website and mobile app in order to keep people constantly aware and up to date with the latest safety information. The website and app are both easy to use services that provide extensive legal advice and safety tips regarding the vast array of different water sports available in Greece.

The service works as a search engine for water sports activities. All users need to do is type in what water activity you’re interested in and the app will show you all of the fully legal and trusted water sport providers in that area. Alongside the useful water sports company database, the website and app also offer safety tips and advice. The mobile app allows users to access the information they may require from any location.

Another benefit of the Safe Water Sports mobile app is that it can provide safety information for beaches without lifeguards. As not every one of Greece’s 2,900 beaches can have an active lifeguard, the Safe Water Sports mobile app provides invaluable information that visitors would otherwise not have access to. Details and facts such as water depths and the type of beach is available via the Safe Water Sports app.

With so many active and engaging initiatives underway, Spiro Latsis and the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation are confident that Safe Water Sports will save thousands of people from inessential accidents whilst enjoying the beautiful Greek beaches and exhilarating aquatic activity.

Greek Students Celebrate Creativity at Municipal Theatre of Piraeus

In May 2016, over 500 students came together for a two-day festival at the Municipal Theatre of Piraeus. The festival featured theatrical presentations which were staged by secondary school students from seven different schools in the Piraeus area. The theatrical productions included works by celebrated playwrights, including Sophocles and Samuel Beckett.

The festival was sponsored by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, which supports the development of culture, arts and the sciences. The board members of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, including Spiro Latsis, oversee its charitable works and contributions. 

Events of the Festival 

The theatrical festival was produced over the course of nine months and involved the cooperation of students and teachers. The students themselves played an important role in coordinating the staging and direction of the productions within the “The Third Bell or Theatre with a Difference” projects.

The festival used theatrical production development to introduce students to Greek theatre and history. Students were able to gain all-round valuable insight by directly participating in all aspects of staging a theatrical performance, skills which will benefit them throughout their education. The event was made open to the public and admission was free of charge.

Featured Works 

The seven theatrical productions represented works from both modern and classical periods. Featured playwrights included notable Greek scholars as well as world-wide literary luminaries. Seven directors worked closely with the students in order to guide them through each step of production.

On 7th May, students from Kallipoli High School performed an adaptation of “Our Great Circus”, originally written by Jakovos Kampanellis. The play focused on themes of freedom and Greek history. Kallipoli students were assisted by Nikos Vasileiou.

Also on 7th May, the student group from the 9th Junior High School of Piraeus, debuted their performance of “Stories of the Gentleman”, with the help of director Giannis Moschos. The play was based on texts written by Anton Chekhov.

The second day of the festival also featured productions from secondary school students. Students from Ionidios Model High School of Piraeus staged a performance of “Oedipus the Tyrant”, written by legendary Greek philosopher and playwright, Sophocles.

Although the subject matter and themes of the play are quite mature, this renowned text allowed students to become acquainted with the scope and possibilities of theatre. They worked under the direction of Aliki Danezi-Knutsen.

Zanneio Experimental High School featured their production of the famous satirical “Waiting for Godot”, written by one of the greatest modern playwrights, Samuel Beckett. Although this play is certainly advanced for secondary school students, it is a fantastic introduction to powerful theatre commenting on society. The students were directed and assisted by Thanos Tokakis.

Spiro Latsis

History of the Piraeus Municipal Theatre 

Students who participated in the festival had the inspiring opportunity to perform in the historical Municipal Theatre of Piraeus. The theatre recognises important cultural and historical significance for local residents.

First constructed in the 1890’s, the theatre officially opened in 1895. The principal architect of the structure, Ioannis Lazarimos, was a resident of Piraeus, as well as a professor at the National Technical University. The theatre was built in a neoclassical style and its rectangular design is 34 x 45 meters, with a combined area of 6000 square meters.

Located in the heart of the city on Korai Square, the building is a famous sight in the city of Piraeus. Over the years, it has developed a reputation as a historic destination for theatrical and musical performances. Its famous stage has featured productions in the fields of opera, drama and dance.

Following a period of restoration, the Municipal Theatre of Piraeus has now reopened and continues to stage a variety of productions. The interior and exterior of the building were completely renovated to restore the theatre to its full potential.

Whilst a sufficient amount of work took place in order to renovate the 1300-seat auditorium, many of the signature features of the building remain intact. For example, the baroque style stage is still predominantly in its original condition and the dominating chandelier in the auditorium continues to light the room as it has for decades.

Future Productions 

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation plans to continue to work with Greek students and provide opportunities that encourage directly engaging with culture, art and history.

Swimming in History: The Neraida Floating Museum at Flisvos Marina

The Neraida ship has become a symbol of the Greek shipping industry for thousands of maritime enthusiasts around the world. With a history of wartime rescue and tourist travel, the Neraida has become a popular and highly regarded attraction since it was reintroduced as a floating museum by The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation (under the supervision of Henrietta, Marianna, Margarita and Spiro Latsis) in 2013.

1. A Special Tour
2.
The History of the Neraida
3.
Converting History

A Special Tour

After its much publicised return to the water, the Neraida made its public debut on a historic return visit to many of its traditional destinations during the summer of 2013. As part of its initial return trip, the ship visited many familiar waters, including the ports of Spetses, Hermione, Hydra and Poros. Since then it has gone on to wow its visitors in every corner of the vast Greek coastline, providing a perfectly reconstructed reminder of the country’s shipping past.

These trips continue today, and in one of its most popular events yet, the Neraida Floating Museum was berthed at the Flisvos Marina between 9 June to 31 July 2016, where locals were treated to an interactive education program that was aimed at addressing children aged between 6 and 12 years old. Entitled Traveling with Neraida, the programme was specifically designed to help introduce young visitors to the history of the iconic ship, while also providing a basic insight into the many aspects of the history of Greek shipping.

Spiro Latsis

The History of the Neraida

Built in 1939, the Neraida was originally used on coastal shipping routes in the Adriatic Sea, but she was also used as a rescue ship during World War II. After being captured by the British, she was used for the coastal service, travelling between Malta and Syracuse. Neraida made her historic entrance into the Latsis family ten years later and was restored ready to take on the Argosaronic Gulf line.

Over the next 25 years, the Neraida serviced a route which carried locals and tourists between some of the most popular local areas including Aegina, Methana, Poros and Hydra. After she was retired, Neraida remained ashore for 35 years. Despite being withdrawn from service, she was carefully looked after by John S. Latsis, who remained fond of the vessel that had helped him launch his business career.

The acquisition of the Neraida marked a turning point for John S. Latsis, who acquired more ships, expending into a significant fleet by the 1960’s. From there he diversified into construction and the oil industry, which prompted the establishment of a number of oil refineries, and finally he moved into the banking sector where he both purchased and established a number of banks to complete his empire. Upon John S. Latsis’ death in 2003, his business was transferred to his family (Henrietta, Marianna, Margarita Spiro Latsis) who took on all aspects of his business life including John S. Latsis’ beloved Neraida.

Converting History

Four years after the death of its owner, the Neraida was carefully transported to NCP Shipyards in Sibernik, Croatia, where she was respectfully converted into a floating museum. After her conversion, Neraida was returned to the Greek waters and was able to raise the Greek flag once more in the summer of 2013. Revitalised after its conversion, Neraida has become one of the few monuments to remember the golden years of coastal shipping in Greece. Presenting her own history, as well as the history of her owner, the ship provides a glimpse into the world of 20th Century shipbuilding, exploring everything from wartime missions to modern tourist trips. On her inaugural tour of her traditional destinations, she received thousands of locals and tourists, who were desperate to explore the past of this historic monument.

The interior of the ship has also been redesigned to educate visitors on both current and past exploits, with the vessel’s biggest attraction an exhibition on The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. Set up in 2005 in honour of John S. Latsis, the foundation aims to continue his legacy and fund a range of programmes across many fields, including education, science, health, social welfare, culture and the environment.

WWF GreenSpaces – New App Raises Awareness for Natural Urban Areas

The World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) GreenSpaces app is a Greek initiative focused on encouraging citizens to ‘reoccupy’ the nation’s greenspaces. In a month long campaign leading up World Environment Day on 5th June, Greek citizens were invited to participate by visiting and charting the nation’s city parks and other urban nature zones. The effort enjoyed an impressive kick-off with 400 volunteers in 82 Greek cities and towns weighing in on 720 green spaces during the first week. All participants were entered in a national drawing to win one of five bicycles provided by Praktiker stores.

Read on to learn more about this exciting project and answer these three questions.

Greece’s cities currently lack adequate greenspace

The GreenSpaces mobile app is a free tool provided by WWF Greece in conjunction with numerous organisations, including the Scouting Association of Greece, the British Council, and the Urban Environmental Workshop at the National Technical University of Athens among others. It is funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation supervised by Spiro Latsis, his mother Henrietta and his sisters Margarita and Marianna.

The app is aimed at increasing Greece’s city greenspaces which currently fall well below the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended 9 square metres per urban resident. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has calculated Athens’ total green space at .96 square metres per resident, while the Aristotelian University rates Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, only slightly better with 2.14 square metres per city inhabitant.

WWF Greenspaces is a versatile app

The GreenSpaces app offers a number of options for citizens who want to use and learn about greenspaces, as well as for those who want to participate in the campaign for environmental awareness in Greece. Users can locate a greenspace area near them, chart a new greenspace, or rate and comment on an existing entry. By monitoring the WWF data, municipal authorities can easily see how local citizens feel about the parks and other greenspaces in their area. The app helps to provide hard data for any campaign aimed at improving access to natural areas.

Spiro Latsis

How to use the WWF Greenspaces app in 6 easy steps

  1. Sign in – after downloading the app you will need to sign in. Choose either a shared sign-in with Facebook, or create an individual password and ID with GreenSpaces itself.
  2. Finding a greenspace – the app presents a map-like interface that allows you to zoom in on a specific area. Greenspaces that have been marked and evaluated by other users will display as locations on the map. Once you click on the icon, the app will display details about the area, including its location, pictures and rating. Clicking on the green walker icon will take you to Google maps where you can find exact directions for how to get to the park. Once you’ve visited, you can add your own comments and rating, so later users will have a more accurate idea of what this greenspace is really like.
  3. Searching based on your interests – if you want to find a specific type of greenspace, such as a park with benches, or a playground for children, you can run a search that includes these criteria. Click on search, enter the specific feature you are looking for, and GreenSpaces will pull up local parks that have what you are looking for based on data entered by other users. Like Google maps or TripAdvisor, GreenSpaces will list these locations based on their relevancy and their proximity.
  4. Calling attention to a greenspace – you can also choose to ‘Follow’ the location so you will get further updates about its status and comments from others who have visited. You can click on the sharing link to promote the site on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. If you feel like the information on Greenspaces is inaccurate, you can also click on report and fill out a form to draw attention to the issue.
  5. Registering a new greenspace – the campaign is underway, but there are still hundreds of greenspaces that have not yet been entered into the app. Adding a new greenspace can be accomplished with only a few clicks. The app will mark your location on the map. If you find yourself at a park or other natural area that isn’t marked, simply click on your location until the tree-shaped icon appears. The address will be entered automatically. You will need to upload at least three photos of the location by clicking on the camera icon. After adding photos, review all the park’s characteristics so that later searches will accurately identify its features. Finish by rating the quality of the greenspace based on size, amount of greenery, cleanliness and other factors. Once you hit submit, all the data you entered will be available for the next person running a search on GreenSpaces.
  6. Actively campaigning – GreenSpaces is a tool for citizens to make their voices heard. If you feel there is not enough energy being invested in creating local greenspaces, the app will help you make an effective case. You can create a social media group and share information and statistics from GreenSpaces’ to promote your cause. One citizen requesting a better local park isn’t likely to get much attention, but a whole group of concerned residents brought together through GreenSpaces can create the publicity needed to force action.

WWF GreenSpaces is focused on creating better urban landscapes one greenspace at a time. To learn more, or download the app go to greenspaces.gr.