The Smile of the Child
Member: NGO Premium
Voluntary Children's Association
10, Zinonos Eleatou Street, GR-151 24 Maroussi, Athens, Greece
The Smile of the Child” makes official visit to the US and Canada
“The Smile of the Child” will first visit New York from the 1st to the 4th of May, and will then continue to Montreal from the 5th to the 7th of May and Toronto from the 8th to the 9th of May, respectively. These visits will give the opportunity to the team of the Organization to meet with a range of international actors and supporters in both countries that stand by the cause of the Organization for all children and families in need in Greece.
More specifically, the President of the BoD, Mr. Costas Yannopoulos and the Head of International Cooperation and Programs, Ambassador (Hon) Marc Van den Reeck, will meet in New York with public officials of the United Nations, international partners in the field of child protection, as well as the Permanent Representative of Greece to the UN, Mrs. Aikaterini Bouras, and the Consul General of Greece in New York, Mr. Constantinos Koutras.
The Greek NGO enjoys special consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (UN ECOSOC) and is associated with the UN Department of Public Information (UN DPI).
“The Smile of the Child” will discuss with international stakeholders and child protection organizations the challenges and the crucial situation for children and families in crisis-hit Greece, while emphasis will be put on the unprecedented refugee crisis that is still ongoing in the country and taking a heavy toll on children in urgent need of international protection and care.
In addition, “The Smile of the Child” represents Greece in the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), based in Washington D.C., and Costas Yannopoulos serves as a member of ICMEC’s Board of Directors leading the global efforts for the protection of children. The Board of Directors of ICMEC is comprised of high-level executives and important personalities in a global scale in the area of child protection, technology, academia, law enforcement, arts, politics and diplomacy.
Mr. Yannopoulos will attend the meeting of the Board of Directors that will be held in New York on the 3rd and 4th of May and will have the opportunity to present the most recent developments of the work of the Organization, as well as the increasing challenges for children and families amidst the persistent socio-economic crisis in the country and the most recent refugee humanitarian crisis.
In 2016 alone “The Smile of the Child” managed to support more than 100.000 children and their families in Greece through a wide spectrum of actions and services for children victims of any form of violence, missing children, children with serious health problems and children living poverty or threatened by poverty and social exclusion.
In New York “The Smile of the Child” will also meet with representatives of Greek Community Federations and Associations, Foundations, Greek and American public officials, as well as representatives of the press.
On the 2nd of May members of the Greek Diaspora in the US will organize a gathering in New York that will give them the opportunity to the audience to learn more about the actions of “The Smile of the Child”, and in particular the efforts of the members of the Canadian Initiative for Lesvos (CIL). Members of this initiative will attend the meeting of New York, thus bringing together both communities from the US and Canada and uniting their efforts under the common cause for children in Greece.
The Canadian Initiative for Lesvos was founded in September 2016 with the goal to offer support to the work of the Greek Organization for children and their families in the country, and more specifically to ensure the necessary financial resources for the establishment of a Home for Children in Mytilene, Lesvos and a Center of Direct Social Intervention on the island.
Initial donations came from Canada including an important contribution from Robert William Peck, Philhellene, and former Ambassador of Canada to the Hellenic Republic (2011-2015). Subsequently, many Greeks and Philhellene citizens, members of associations, local Organizations and Communities, as well as volunteers and supporters in Canada and beyond followed supporting the goals and cause of the Canadian initiative.
The Canadian Initiative for Lesvos (CIL) is being led by Montreal-based co-ordinators Zoi Batsis and Maria Fotopoulos, and a committee of dedicated volunteers.
To garner more support and enhance this effort, members of the Canadian Initiative for Lesvos are organizing the Wine and Tasting 2017 Festival on 6 and 7 May in support of “The Smile of the Child”. The President of “The Smile of the Child” Mr. Costas Yannopoulos and Ambassador (Hon) Marc Van den Reeck will attend this event in Montreal held at the heart of the Greek Community, at the venue of the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal.
The Festival will host a number of activities including the photo exhibition “The Forgotten Children” of the Canadian Photographer Jeff Malo, who captured tragic images during the summer of 2016 amidst the plight of thousands of refugees, including children, arriving on Greek shores and looking for a better future in Europe.Jeff Malo and Québec singer and human rights activist Lynda Thalie are in the final stages of completing a film documentary in support of “The Smile of the Child” following their visit last year to Greece and Lesvos.
Through the establishment of a Home for Children, “The Smile of the Child” aims at creating a safe living environment for the care of all children at risk on an equal basis, namely, unaccompanied refugee children currently living in unacceptable living conditions and structures and Greek children or children of non-Greek origin removed or separated from their abusive family environment following an order of the prosecutor and the judicial authorities.
The Home for Children will operate under the umbrella of the Center of Direct Social Intervention of Lesvos that will be also operated by “The Smile of the Child” and will offer, among other services, the Mobile Medical Unit of Intensive Care for newborns and children that has been already operating since early February of 2016 and is incorporated into Vostaneio Hospital in Mytilene and the public-run National Center of Emergency Assistance (EKAV), a direct intervention capacity for children at risk and a holistic social and medical care to children and families in need of any kind of support.
The official visit of the Organization will be completed in Toronto where the team of “The Smile of the Child” will meet the Consul General of Greece, Mr. Alexandros Ioannides, His Eminence Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios Athanassoulas and members of the Greek Community.