On this page we, the volunteers of MCCH, want to share experiences we have had.
Why? Because we experienced emotions that still resonate in us. We wish to communicate these meaningful moments – beautiful and hopeful – which will remain forever with us.
“A baby is born…
God still has hope in people…”
On the 3rd of April a baby was born, fresh as spring rain. He is so tiny that he quietly perches in your mind. All day it warms your heart. Isn’t it amazing that the state is inclined to reject it, because he’s uninsured. Because his father has no time for crying babies, because his mother is a minor”. And yet, look at the baby, in tranquil sleep, unruffled by all of this full of instinctive confidence. As for the young mother and the purposeful grandmother, their dignity awes you, even if they don’t understand the meaning of “retroactive insurance”.
Welcome little one
We promise we will do what we can, in spite of the times.
“One more child is born;
one more flower in the garden…”
On the 16th of April at 7:30 a.m. a little girl was born. It eats greedily and cries constantly because it doesn’t feel welcome in this strange world. Her brother keeps taking pictures of her in amazement. She is lucky because both parents looked forward to having her. Of course the state feels differently.
“Where do you think you are going, little one, with jobless parents.
Did you think we would take care of the costs of your delivery?
Do you know how many are jobless?
We will close the hospital – and don’t ask who made them unemployed.”
Go to sleep little baby. Love will solve all your problems. Your parents are trying and struggling and we at the clinic are doing all we can. Also people are helping us so that you don’t live in deprivation. When you grow up, may you not know what “crisis” and “misery” mean. May you know instead “love” and “solidarity”. We are trying to change the unfeeling selfish opinions of the state – so that it can realize that the children of the WHOLE world belong to it.
I’ll never forget two special moments of human greatness that I felt in the clinic.
One of them was on a Thursday afternoon in 2012; I had just come to the clinic from work. At a certain moment, I noticed a mother who had brought both her children to be examined by our pediatrician. She had in her hand the baby milk and diapers she had just received – and that alone showed she was in need. As we always do in the clinic with young children, I went up to the children and asked them if they wanted a toy. The younger boy, aged two answered with an emphatic “yes”; the elder – about five – stared at me and said “I have gotten a toy lately. Why don’t you let another child take one.” I was really struck and fetched the whole bag of toys. “We have other toys. Why don’t you have another one you like.” He just smiled back and seized a little teddy bear. It was the first time I had had such a big lesson on compassion from such a small person. If a child could feel this way, then I knew there was hope for all of us.
The second such experience was on a Thursday evening. It was getting late and there and as most patients were leaving, a lady came through the door. She was not in the best shape, she looked ill. I remembered her – she was one of our cancer patients. She came straight up to me and I asked her how we could help. She said, “I understand you need volunteers to help clean the clinic and I want to help. You have all done so much for me; I want to give something back to all of you.” She said it with such an ease, as if she didn’t have a problem in the world and now she wanted to give us some of the little time she had left. I stuttered a thank you and she smiled broadly. “I am the one who should thank you people” and she went away as quietly as she had come in. I stood looking after her. I felt the clinic was empty; an angel had just left.
Christos Sideris (volunteer)
“I look at my cup of coffee in front of me
And my mind races.
I have a lot to do today, but how much can I get done.
Things are disintegrating around me.
The sound of my mobile phone interrupts my musings.
GOOD MORNING. I CAN SEE.
I try to understand. Who? What can you see?
It’s Dimitri. I’ve started the therapy and I can now make out faces.
Good morning. – Two words we say out of habit.
How many times do we really think that each new day is a gift?
Dimitri can SEE again. This is a really good day.
Good morning to you all.
From volunteer Maria Zouganeli,
who is our coordinator for the uninsured cancer patients
who are shut out of the Greek public health care system.
End of May of 2013 we went though a difficult time. A two month old angel was brought to our clinic . He was under weight and his kidneys were not working properly. He was born in Greece, His mother had just managed to get out of Syria before he was born. His father was not so lucky. He was lost on the Turkish Syrian border and it is not known what became of him. The little fellow weighed less than 3.5 kilos when he came to us – he should have been at least 4.5. Our pediatrician followed his progress and we gave him the needed infant food. Some weeks later he came back to visit. The volunteers broke out in joyous laughter . They saw the baby they had seen two months earlier quite well in health and at the weight he should be. Without the help and support of so many individuals, companies and institutions we wouldn’t have been able to help this little angel or any of the dozens of other children that come to us each month. Many of them are malnourished. To say thank you to you all is the least we can say
Christos Sideris, volunteer
How do you spell “Solidarity?”
It’s a magic word. After you dive in and breathe in the world of solidarity, you slowly slowly understand a magical change. The cocoon of “I” is replaced by the infinite “We”. Solidarity is the core of the Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko. We try to offer care and love to our fellow human beings who suffer in these difficult times that plague the country. We look for ways to transform tears and struggle to Hope and Trust, now that health and access to care has become the right of the few.
No, it’s not easy, but it is magical how it works.
Helen describes a moment that touched her especially…
“I will never forget. A patient came to the clinic hoping to find a very expensive medicine and we didn’t have it.
“I will never forget his look of disappointment.”
Helen (who could be Maria or any of our volunteers) tried to put the situation in the best light and said to the patient “Maybe someone will donate the medicine. We will let you know.”
And the patient, now doubly disappointed, left.
What power worked the miracle? The power of love perhaps?
How does it happen? When you pray with all your soul for something to assist another who is suffering, is your wish granted and immediately?
Just a few minutes later Helen learned from Rhea that a person had just come in and donated this same very expensive medicine. Was he an intervening angel or a simple person – sometimes the two get confused.
Now, to catch the patient as he was walking up the street – and she did.
We don’t know if the expensive medicine cured the patient or not.
But a volunteer who was able to stop him from leaving in time and offered the help he was seeking – that is therapy indeed.
This happened in January or February of 2012, just a few months after MCCH had opened its doors to the uninsured and those in need. Our patient load was still small. And we were still not receiving much donated medication as the public hadn’t learned of us as yet.
In those days we few volunteers working reception were anything but experienced. We were helping the clinic and performing our duties more on instinct, than knowledge. One day during my shift, a patient came to the clinic. He had been prescribed some anti-coagulant injections. He needed additional injections to round up the amount he needed. The pharmacy was closed that day and I went to Dr. Vichas and asked if he could find the medication, and that happened.
He went to our pharmacy (very poorly stocked in those days), found the injections and gave them to me so I could give them to the patient. When I took the box, I froze.
It was the same box (with my initials) that I had used months ago for my mother when she was hospitalized. She had died the previous July. We had donated her unused medicine to the hospital that cared for her. They, in turn had given the medication to another patient and he, or his family, brought it to our clinic in response to one of our appeals for medication.
When I mentioned this to our doctor, he said “Everything happens for a reason.” When I think of the vastness of the Attica basin, that this one box of injections travelled through the whole area and wound up back in my hands.
M.S. – volunteer.
I want to share the emotions that I felt last night (13/03/2014) at the end of my shift. Thursday at the clinic was very tiring because after the shift, we went straight in to a meeting to help organize the bazaar. After all of this, I returned home feeling contented and peaceful.
The reason for that was one of our donors had gone to the pharmacy in his neighborhood. He asked his pharmacist to check or website for what medications we needed, bought medicines indicated and brought them to us. I have no idea of the financial value of the medicines. And he certainly is not the first person who has donated medicines to us. But what touched me was his dignified and humble behavior and that he came all the way from San Stefano (that’s about as far away as you can get from our clinic in the greater Athens area – a very long car ride). Maybe it was that at that moment, I had a needed a lift. People like him help to keep civilization going. They are proof that we have not sunk into barbarism. I felt the need to share this. Thank you.
Maria Vamvakousi (volunteer)