Pathways of Life: An introduction to our work
"Pathways of Life" (Dromoi Zois) is a charity that operates in the region of Gazi - Athens and the wider area, focusing on the support of socially excluded children, women and families. Ιn an attempt to ensure its voluntary nature, the organization is operating with volunteers only, on its own funds, mainly collected from sales on our Christmas Bazaar which is organised and operated by volunteers, or from private donations which are not associated with governmental or European subsidy.
Since 2000, when the Communication Centre of "Pathways of Life" officially commenced its operation, a lot of children have found an appropriate place, acceptance and encouragement for their daily studying and creative activity with the assistance of the attending volunteers.
On 2001 "Pathways of Life" was awarded by the President of Greece for the quality of support provided to the people in need.
This year almost 110 children between the ages of 5 and 20 were registered and regularly attend classes in the Communication Centre with the support and presence of more that 150 active volunteers.
Further to the daily classes which support students' needs for schoolwork, there are many more group activities, which take place in the operational context of the Communication Centre, that promote education as well as shaping character and personality. As such all registered children at the "Pathways of Life" have the opportunity to be members of the following groups: art workshop, ceramics, jewellery making, theatre, dancing, cooking, art therapy for elementary school children, newspaper "Oneirodromos" which is authored and edited by highschool children in cooperation with volunteers and last but not least visits to theatres, sightseeing etc. Moreover, in an attempt to support mothers who bring their children to the Communication Centre, we offer Greek language lessons for illiterate women as well as psychological support through group therapy sessions managed by psychologist volunteers. Additionally, our volunteers may share and resolve issues that arise during their volunteer work involving children within corresponding group therapy sessions as well as drama therapy sessions.
The main festivities our children anticipate every year are the masquerade party, the theatrical play which they prepare during the year and present at the end of the academic year and the summer one day excursion. In June 2013 the show included modern dance, and a couple of plays with onstage live music. The children's camp "Happy Children - Happy Youth" in Elefsina kindly offered their facilities for our one day excursion which was thoroughly enjoyed by our children, parents and volunteers.
Another main activity of "Pathways of Life" is the program "Care" (Frontida) which is in force since 2007. Under "Care" about 40 families are supported monthly with food. The program "Care" is a network through which any individual or business entity may offer food, which we collect and distribute once a month, keeping a stock for the next month's distribution. We are excited with the response of people who are particularly sensitive to this need despite the current financial situation of Greece and we hope to be able to provide fresh food also in the near future.
Although austerity seems to be the only flourishing field in our country today, our main concern is to provide children with opportunities to live a life we usually consider to be regular but is not always the case for them. Our efforts are focused on care, proper treatment, positive perceptions, neatness, tidiness as virtues that may be communicated to support and accompany the children for the rest of their lives.
In conclusion we would like to share the following image: When we first visited Gazi back in 1996 the scenery looked more like a village rather than the centre of Athens. The local Muslim community was trying to survive under difficult conditions. Our presence and help has always been distinct and respectful of those people, their faith and their customs. Ordinarily back then the children did not attend high school. Today children graduate from high school and we are happy to have in "Pathways of Life" volunteers' family university students from the community, who support the Communication Centre.