I. LET’S HAVE A LOOK ON THE CLUB FOR UNESCO OF PIRAEUS AND ISLANDS
Fourth interview for ODD&THEKEDGERS, still in Athens, a virtual appointment at the Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands with Ioannis Maronitis, the President of the Club,. Supported by Konstantinos Chardavellas, the Coordinator of European and International projects of the Club, this interview will put forward this not-for-profit organization of 120 people, sill lead since 1998 with the fundamental aim is to cultivate international perception, understanding, cooperation and solidarity, independently but in accordance with the principles and ideals of UNESCO.
The Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands is “building peace in the minds of people” (NGO’s motto) through a continuing cultural philosophy
The Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands started as a cultural organization in 1998. Using culture to bring people together and to promote tolerance and peace was the first and most important goal of this organization. Indeed, the NGO intended firmly left discrimination and prejudice behind by promoting intercultural dialogue and understanding through art and common culture. If it remains the center of its philosophy until today, the NGO’s environment has changed during the financial and the migrants crisis. The Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands, as each organization, had to adapt its activities to this varying environment. It began by organizing individual facilities to assist local populations, quickly expanded to large complexes. This expanded activity area has made the NGO more and more sensitive to issues such as hunger, poverty, healthcare and education.
Within a continuing cultural philosophy in its activities & its events, within the responsibility to undertake its tasks & its initiatives in an environmentally-friendly way, this social support organization is now providing facilities and material to all people seeking support and assistance with fair and equal opportunities to all its beneficiaries. Over the years, the Club established partnerships with other organizations throughout Greece and the world and has become an expert in social support projects. Today, approximately 30000 registered members regularly attend the NGO events, are volunteers in its actions and promote the Club message and goals.
The field of social support, a more systematic approach to avoid marginalization of people that are the most in need
The people that are the most in need face disadvantages such as poverty, hunger, poor healthcare that are hugehurdles to stay in our society system. It is a vicious cycle where disadvantaged people are becoming marginalized. Marginalization is a global issue. It leads people in a zone of exclusion or quasi-exclusion where they are rejected from the ordinary circuit of social exchanges. Then, it often becomes harder and harder to reintegrate lastingly in the society system. Here is the field of social support proposed by the NGO, it consists in removing the immediate hurdles that people are facing in order to focus on their personal development such as education, employability skills and work experience. Because they don’t have to worry about these problems anymore, they can go further. It has been clearly explained by Sir Maronitis in its presentation:
By helping them integrate into society, they are less marginalized. Break the vicious cycle to start a new and better one ! – I.Maronitis
To sum up, the Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands identified some global issues, whose main are hunger, poverty, healthcare and education, as relevant factors to explain the marginalization of a significant part of the population that it served. Then, to deal with this marginalization issue, the Club understood immediately that it will have to deal with these four global issues, which areintrinsically linked. This approach is totally in adequation with the way to use the SDGs matrix: to fix intrinsically linked issues, let’s deal with it through intrinsically linked goals! This statement has been clearly highlighted during the presentation:
In the deployment of our activities, we focus on breaking the vicious cycle by knowing that the above SDGs are interlinked, meaning that one often leads to the other. Targeting one of these SDGs isn’t enough, in order to alleviate them, all must be tackled at the same time – I.Maronitis
II. COMMITMENTS FOR SUSTAINABILITY OF THE CLUB FOR UNESCO OF PIRAEUS AND ISLANDS
By avoiding the marginalization of people that are the most in need, the Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands shares the common message of the SDGs to “leave no one behind” and contributes to reach a part of them! Precisely, Sir Maronitis has pointed out in its presentation the SDGs that resonate particularly for the NGO in the SDG matrix:
SDG 1 – No poverty, SDG 2 – Zero hunger, SDG 3 – Good health and well-being, SDG 4 – Quality education,SDG 16 – Peace and justice
The ongoing projects of the Club
The ongoing effort to establish a complete support system for the people that are the most in need is articulated around these projects:
(1) A communal pharmacy where people with no access to medication can receive their prescriptions at no cost. The pharmacy also provides first-aid materials, as well as sanitation products to beneficiaries
(2) An eating hall where immigrants, homeless and people living in poverty can have a steady meal every day
(3) Two communal grocery stores where disadvantaged families can register and receive food, sanitary products clothing and other household necessities for free, as well as books, CDs, games and movies in order to provide entertainment, education and access to cultural media
(4) The two largest Shelters in Greece that provide residential space to homeless people, both Greek and people coming from abroad as immigrants or refugees, with support to the beneficiaries for their reintegration into society
(5) The two largest Day-Centers in Greece for people living in poverty, the homeless, and disadvantaged youth, both Greek and people coming from abroad as immigrants or refugees, with support to the beneficiaries for their reintegration into society
The above projects are all joined, but Sir Maronitis has chosen to present us the Shelters (4) and Day-Centers (5), as they are the most important part of this whole project. To understand the Shelters & Day-Centers’ project clearly, let’s discover the GOOD PRACTICE SHEET we have done, supported by 3 TOOLS!
An upcoming project of the Club
Not easy to prepare an upcoming project in 2020 ! In fact, the Covid-19 outbreak is affecting all of us, the Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands too with difficulties to acquire the necessary materials for the facilities’ daily needs (because of stock shortages, price hikes or decreased mobility) and to implement safety regulations in the facilities (where many people are not complying, are unaware of the situation or do not fully adhere to regulations). Whatever the difficulties, the NGO has succeeded to adapt itself by tackling the hurdles. In the same approach the NGO is tackling its beneficiaries’ hurdles for a reintegration in the society, the Club has tackled the hurdles implied by the Covid-19 crisis.
However, life goes on, issues go on, so upcoming projects must go on ! That is the case for the Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands with a facility that the NGO is currently building, dedicated to theelderly who are living in poverty. The purpose is to provide a safe environment where the elderly can stay and live a productive and decent life, even if they cannot afford it. This project will aim to fight against financial and age discriminations by ensuring quality of life and health for elderly people that are the most in need. A project consistent with the NGO’s value to leave no one behind!
III. THE CLUB FOR UNESCO OF PIRAEUS AND ISLANDS AND THE KEDGERS
Could the Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands be your next experience?
Beside the purpose to make Kedgers (Kedge Business School’s students) aware of the Sustainable Development Goals, ODD&THEKEDGERS aims to inform the managers of tomorrow of responsible opportunities abroad in the associative, private and public sectors. That’s why at the end of our interview, we have not hesitated to ask Sir Maronitis some questions for you in order to know to whom this organization could turn for a professional experience abroad.
The Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands participates in Erasmus + projects and often participates in student and youth exchanges for a professional experience! Mostly interested by people who exhibit motivation towards volunteer work, social support, justice activities and anyone involved in relief efforts, the NGO is looking for VOLUNTEERS, LANGUAGE TEACHERS, SOCIAL WORKERS, HEALTH EXPERTS who speak Arabic, French and Spanish! You have the profile? It could be your next experience abroad!
Precious words Sir Maronitis for the students that are at Kedge
Before leaving, let’s soak up our interviewee’s advice !
While we do not look at this criterion in the initial selection, awareness of SDGs and CSR is something that we will look for in the interview phases for all our potential employees. – I.Maronitis
Social support is a field in which there are no competitions so your coworkers will happily help, support and give you advice. – I.Maronitis
Invest time to acquire skills from other disciplines, such as learning other languages, economics, psychology, … because working in projects, especially social support projects, demands a variety of skills. – I.Maronitis
Keep an open mind and dive into challenges without forgotten that failure and mistakes as a positive experience from which you will learn. – I.Maronitis
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Download the good practice sheet and tools of the article :