25 May 2017 Helliniko
Refugees – MCCH and NGOs
In 2015 the refugee phenomenon intensified in Greece to a record breaking degree and our people rose to the test. The volunteers of the Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko also played their part and reacted immediately. In the spirit of humanity and solidarity, combined with extra shifts and many extra hours of work we sent shipments of medicines and needed items to the islands, which were bearing the brunt of the responsibility in the first months. And we continue to ship large amounts of medication wherever there is need (Helliniko, the islands, Eidomeni, Piraeus port, etc.) Our doctors volunteered their time and skills in a number of clinics and places where there were refugees. Our volunteers assisted in organizing the refugees and places where they could stay. This was in the early days when the official state response was rudimentary and more bureaucracy than service.
All of 2016 and 2017 we have continued to support in a rational way – so as to ensure medication to the patients of our clinic while immediately fulfilling requests coming from the many organizations active in the refugee issue. Most of these Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are funded, and some well funded indeed. Many of them come from other countries. The creation of the NGOs from the beginning has been associated with the retreat of state support for social purposes, both in Greece and in other countries. The result of this retreat has been that society tries to engage citizens to volunteer in a spirit of solidarity. But then, as it so often happens, profit becomes the goal. Some of these NGOs receive generous funding from different sources, both positive and not. NGOs started to sprout like mushrooms, some with questionable motives. Not a few of these organizations were founded with a vague purpose that seemed more about attracting donations than working toward something. This direction of many NGOs has been reflected in the quality of their services. During this refugee crisis many NGOs offer top down services and their basic criterion is to reduce costs while increasing their revenue. Obviously this is “service at a distance” without the connection of true solidarity.
We’ve seen this phenomenon up close and personal at MCCH. We have responded to the requests of a number of NGOs for medication and medical equipment. In addition we have also provided services that they purport to provide themselves. This subject was much discussed at our last general assembly. We have decided that as far as this subject is concerned we will champion sensitivity and humanity toward individuals who suffer. We will treat each future request on an individual basis.
Obviously we cannot monitor individual NGOs nor would we wish to. We are obliged, however to request that the state does so, in a transparent manner, both regarding their funding sources as well as the level of services they provide. The clouds hanging over some NGOs need to be cleared away.
METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO
(MONDAY – FRIDAY 10:00 – 20:00) and (SATURDAY 10:00 – 14:00)
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base,
(200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality
of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko)
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece