A shipment of critically needed medical supplies, including life-saving equipment, worth over $650,000, is on its way to Athens thanks to the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).
This month’s shipment – the fifth since last year – will be directed to Evangelismos Hospital in downtown Athens.
Since teaming up with the IOCC (the official humanitarian aid agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America) last year, AHEPA has managed to secure the shipment of four containers filled with medical supplies worth a whopping $3.25m to send to Greece.
AHEPA, which is the largest and oldest grassroots association of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes with more than 400 active chapters across the United States, Canada, Greece and Cyprus, donated $17,000 to secure the shipping container. The IOCC assembled the medical supplies and equipment.
“Austerity measures [in Greece]have had a devastating impact on public health spending,” said AHEPA’s Supreme President Kouzounis in a press release.
The cash-strapped government reduced public health spending by 25% between 2009 and 2012.
“The ability of hospitals to purchase medical supplies and equipment has been hampered,” added Kouzounis. “The need is very real, and AHEPA, working in cooperation with the IOCC, is proud to be able to facilitate the shipment of a significant amount of aid to help address the medical supply shortage in Greece.”
The funds for the shipping container were raised through donation drives organized by members of AHEPA Region 6 (Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, North and South Dakota and parts of Missouri and Nebraska). In August, members of the AHEPA Region 6 presented raised a total $25,270 in donations. AHEPA Chapter 66 (Minneapolis) raised more than half of the amount – $14,820.
“We thank the community for helping to make this important shipment of medical supplies a reality through its contributions and donations,” Kouzounis said. “The spirit of philanthropy is alive and well and it must continue to flourish if we are to meet the dire needs the people of Greece are enduring during this most difficult time. We are proud of the Greek American community’s action, especially of those Ahepans in Region 6, and we encourage individuals and organizations to continue to donate to worthy causes that help Greece.”
Last March, AHEPA Canada donated a rigid bronchoscope machine valued at $12,000 to Evangelismos Hospital where AHEPA has a wing named after it. The rigid bronchoscope is used to prevent lung bleeding while positioning stents in tumors.
AHEPA, together with its Daughters of Penelope, has donated nearly $100,000 to Apostoli Mission, a food bank charity run by the Church of Greece, to help feed thousands of homeless and needy.
Each $10,000 donation prepares about 500 food package kits. Each food kit contains dry food and goods that will last a family of four about 20 days. Some food packages are tailored specifically for a family’s needs, for example, containing powdered baby formula and diapers for families with babies.
To date, AHEPA has raised nearly $200,000 for humanitarian aid for the people of Greece.