The Orthodox Countries in Eastern Europe and the Southeastern Mediterranean region are significantly poorer than the United States; some regions more than others. This limits what they can do for people who cannot care for themselves, and have no family or friends to do it for them. For instance, in northern Greece there is an orphanage, the Agios Nektarios institution. An internet search yielded five results on Agios Nektarios. One result was a speech at the opening of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) District Annual Convention in May 2005 in Thessaloniki, Greece, indicating that the Association made contributions to Agios Nektarios.
A secular charity tells the story in more detail:
A friendly visitor, a hug, a walk in the park…for most of us, these are life’s simple and common pleasures. We don’t often think about them, but we would miss them dearly if they were taken away. Children and young adults at Agios Nektarios Institution in Sidirokastro, Greece have seldom, if ever, known these everyday joys in life.
High atop a hill in Sidirokastro sits the Agios Nektarios Institution. This Institution houses children and young adults born with a variety of mental and physical disabilities, ranging from simple physical impairments such as poor vision to more serious disabilities including severe mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy, and others.
The conditions these young people are forced to endure are unacceptable. Many of the residents spend their entire life in a bed with no toys and often no sheets, blankets, pillows, or other bedding. All the while, the more mobile residents sit on the cement floor in the hallway throughout the day. The residents of Agios Nektarios are provided no educational or recreational programs of any kind. Their hygiene is inhumane at best. Children are bathed once a week in the most inhumane manner. Lacking dental care, their teeth rot and their gums bleed.
Here one can access the Project Greece Video tour (7 minutes) to see the conditions there and also the group’s loving response. Be prepared to shed tears. http://www.projectgreece.org/video/ProjectGreeceTour.htm
Here’s a news article on the effort: http://www.projectgreece.org/press/WranglerNews.pdf (From the comments about the local bishop, the writer is obviously not Orthodox; aside from that, its worth reading,)
Michele McCuen, a special education teacher, is an Orthodox Christian who participated in this effort. It cost participants $4000 to make the trip.
We need to keep our eyes open and prayerfully respond to the many great needs outside our land of plenty, don’t we?