Greeks in Brussels are proud to have among them a valuable friend who cares for people in need back in the country via many philanthropic actions. We talk about Jimmy Jamar, Head of the European Commission Representation Office in Belgium,
the founder "12 hours for Greece".
"12 Hours for Greece" is a charity organisation established in 2012 by a group of European citizens living in Belgium. The objective of the association is to collect, through the organisation of cultural events, funds to assist organisations in Greece operating in the fields of education, health and the fight against poverty.
M. Jamar you are a very known person among the greek community in Brussels. Especially for your action such as 12 HOUR FOR GREECE and others .Up to this day what was the results of your actions?
- We have been active now since 7 years to help associations on the ground in Greece in the areas of education, health and the fight against poverty. We have helped organizations such as Hamogelo tou Paidiou, Médecins sans Frontières, Make-a-Wish Greece, ELEPAP (the Hellenic organization for handicapped children), and, since 2014, the International Foundation for Greece, for our action “Fuel for Schools”, which helps heating schools in Northern Greece. This year, though, because of the tragic events in Mati, we are also helping families who have lost everything in the fires All in all, since we started our activities, we have collected over 230.000 €, which have been directly distributed to people in need. We also organized a one-shot operation in June 2016 to collect money for the refugees in the Greek islands. This enabled to collect 240.000 € and 11,5 tons of material.
You visited, lately, Mati village where the fire catastrophe took place last July. What was the reason of this visit.
- When I learnt about the fires and the dramatic amount of casualties, I immediately started to raise money to help families that have lost everything. The issue was to identify the people mostly in need, namely those who had their only home in Mati and Neas Voutzas. Thanks to the help of people living in the area, we were able to identify around 20 families, and we collected so far over 60.000 € that were directly distributed to them. I decided last week to go to Mati myself to meet the people I had contacts through e-mail or the telephone. The meeting took place at the little harbour of Mati on Thursday 18 October.
What are your personal impressions and your feelings from this visit
- I must say it was one of the most moving moments of my life. On the one hand, because I saw the damage inflicted to the entire area, which really looks like a war zone. It’s very hard to see in the same road a succession of houses that look perfectly normal and others that are burnt to ashes ! It‘s the huge pine trees that often decided on the fate of the houses. But it was the meeting with the people that was the most moving. There was a lot of emotion on all sides, but I was also struck by the dignity of these people who have lost everything, their papers, their books, their belongings, their entire life !. Many of them are living in the army camps further down the coast. Others have found shelter with family and friends. Everyone has a story, and eyes get wet when they talk about the terrible evening of 23 July.
Are you willing to continue actions in order to help people in need in Greece?
- Yes of course, and more than ever ! This year, for instance, we are organising as usual a concert to mark the beginning of our Fuel for School campaign. We are privileged to have Alkistis Protopsalti as guest singer. But we will also devote part of the gains to see how we can help the Mati families during the winter. Most of them will need clothes and shoes, as well as other basic commodities. So we will continue to help. This is the least we can do.
Please give us your propositions in order to sensitize the greek community -and beyond - in order to relieve suffering populations because of natural disasters
- Natural disasters unfortunately will continue to happen, and it is our duty to see in every case what we can do to help. It is important, I believe, to coordinate our actions as much as possible, and above all, to identify the best possible way to connect with people directly. One of the advantages, in that way, of our organisation is that we can operate without any intermediaries. We can go immediately to the people, in total transparency. Our other advantage is that we have no administrative costs, no overheads. This means that every euro received is immediately and entirely transferred. In the Mati disaster, for instance, we operated directly with the families by sending money to their personal account. This was in most cases the first money that they perceived directly, and this represented, I believe, a strong psychological support in addition to the financial aspect. Working together is therefore important to maximise efficiency.
"12 Hours for Greece" with Alkistis Protopsalti as guest star in Brussels!
The Alkistis Protopsalti concert of "12 Hours for Greece", is for 10 November at the Salle de la Madeleine in Brussels The concert will aim at collecting funds to help the victims of the Mati fires. Part of the benefits will also go to the Fuel for school initiative, aiming
at heating schools (including in Mati, Neos Voutsas and Rafina) during the coming winter.
The concert is scheduled an 10 November at the Salle de la Madeleine in Brussels.
The price is 30€. You can purchase your tickets directly at www.ticketmaster.be; at the bookstore Periple (tel +32.2.2309325); or by calling +32.498.980045). You can also help the Mati victims by making a donation to the "12 Hours for Greece" bank account : BE54 0016 6813 8197. Looking forward to seeing you in November!