The New York-based Greek America Foundation is seeking young adults to participate in a month-long volunteer program on the Greek island of Chios.
Volunteers will spend July 1 – August 2, 2020 serving abandoned children who come from broken homes or abusive families. The team will work in a structured environment and in partnership with a respected Greek non-profit organization with years of experience in this field.
The issue of child welfare in Greece has worsened in recent years as an already existing lack of social services has been amplified by economic crisis. By 2014, the number of abandoned infants in pediatric hospitals had soared by 336 percent since the start of the Greek financial crisis (circa 2008).
Growing middle-class poverty has also left an average of one in four Greek children living in poverty — according to UNICEF. The statistic gives Greece one of the highest child poverty rates in the EU.
The Greek charity Kivotos Tou Kosmou (Ark of the World) has stepped up to take disenfranchised children into their care. The organization will host the Greek America Foundation’s young adult volunteers, who come from the foundation’s volunteer division — called Greek America Corps.
During their month on Chios, the Greek America Corps volunteers will work closely with Kivotos staff at their shelter facility outside of the island’s main port city. Other volunteer locations include public, recreational and cultural facilities such as beaches, parks, sports fields, museums and other sites.
The group will provide education, enrichment and friendship through arts, cultural, recreational and skills-based activities. Volunteers may also be asked to support the Kivotos team with basic administrative and maintenance projects such as meal planning and preparation, cleaning and beautification of common spaces and routine child care needs.
In addition to volunteer duties, participants will enjoy cultural immersion experiences such as excursions to historic, religious or otherwise significant sites — as well as local celebrations and festivities.
The team will also take children from the Kivotos facility on select excursions throughout Chios island.
Scholarships are available. Students with financial aid may apply for scholarships that cover the cost of housing, program expenses such as cultural excursions, local transportation and various group meals. Airfare to Greece is not included.
Applicants who do not require financial aid may also pay for themselves. But regardless of application type, students must first apply and be accepted into the program in order to participate.
For an additional fee of $840 USD, students from the US/Canada have the option to receive college credit through the Greek America Foundation’s partnership with the Athens-based Hellenic American University. A counselor from the university will provide a curriculum and coursework. Applicants may specify in their application if they wish to receive this credit.