A team from the Greek America Foundation visited the village of Vrysa on the island of Lesvos on July 20 where a series of devastating earthquakes hit, leaving one woman dead and almost 1,000 buildings damaged or destroyed completely.
Gregory Pappas, founder and president of the foundation, and Jennifer Kellogg, executive director, were given access into the restricted village and also met with local officials, including Stratos Parakilas, the president of the local community in Vatera where Visa is located.
Mr. Parakilas explained that food was the biggest need of the impacted villagers.
“Their immediate support is our main priority at the moment. Damages to buildings and other material issues of property, reconstruction and the rebuilding of churches and other buildings is secondary to us right now. At this point people need daily survival and this means food and water,” Parakilas explained.
Of the almost one thousand buildings that were damaged or destroyed, about 250 were primary residences of villagers who lived there year round. The remainder of the buildings were businesses or secondary residences of part time residents who had their main residences in Athens or elsewhere.
Following a long discussion about the needs of the villagers, the Greek America Foundation team committed to supporting the food needs of 30 of the 250 families in need for an entire year, with a grant of almost $30,000.
An aggressive fundraising campaign is under way to increase the number of families served. The cost to feed a single family, according to Mr. Parakilas, with meats and dairy products for an entire month was approximately $100. Fruits and vegetables were being grown and shared by the community as many of the locals had their own gardens and a community pantry has been created for earthquake victims to share these items amongst themselves.
The Greek America Foundation grants for food will be managed by a local non-profit, Iliaktida, which was on the ground supporting victims the day the earthquake hit and has continued supporting families, as well as first-responders on the ground assisting with emergency repairs and clean up.
“Food will be purchased directly with our grant money, ensuring that we, as an organization, are stewards to our donors and ensure that the funds reach and support those in need and not end up getting lost,” according to Gregory Pappas.
“Right now, we can support 30 families for a year with about $30,000 that we’ve raised or has been pledged,” according to Jennifer Kellogg. “We’d love to increase this to all 250 families in need, giving these people an entire year of food to allow them to get their lives in order after this devastating earthquake.”
$100 will buy food for a family for one month.