A delegation of NGO “The Smile of the Child” arrives on an official visit in Montreal and Ottawa from May 5-8 and May 9-10, respectively. The purpose is to inform and encourage the local Greek community, as well as other child protection actors in Canada to support the activities of “The Smile of the Child” in addressing the ongoing challenges for thousands of children and families in Greece.
“The Smile of the Child” is a 20-year-old NGO, with no State funding whatsoever, and with one single objective: efficiently help children in need, regardless of who they are, where they come from, what their race or belief is. They are all children, innocent and vulnerable.
In 2015, “The Smile of the Child” assisted 95,702 children in Greece with welfare and social support, medical care, preventive medicine, etc. Over the 20 years of its existence, more than a million children have been helped out. Currently, nearly 380 children exposed to neglect and violence have been entrusted to “The Smile of the Child” upon a prosecutorial order and have re-found a true family in one of the organization’s 11 Homes nationwide.
More recently, “The Smile of the Child” has also been trying to balance these longstanding activities with the urgent need and ethical responsibility to help also refugee and migrant children, and particularly unaccompanied ones, in the midst of a dramatic refugee crisis unfolding in the country. About 40% of refugees coming into Greece are children, partially unaccompanied. More than 12,000 refugee and migrant children throughout the country receive help on a monthly basis from “The Aegean Smile” Action Plan that was set up by “The Smile of the Child” in mid-February 2016: protection against the risks of exploitation and trafficking, healthcare assistance and coverage of immediate needs, search for missing unaccompanied minors, family reunification, etc.
The team of “The Smile of the Child,” headed by Ambassador Marc Van den Reeck in charge of the International Cooperation of the Greek NGO, will have the opportunity to present the importance of its actions for children, as well as the challenges for child protection to a number of key members of the Greek-Canadian Community, public officials and other Canadian stakeholders.
In Montreal, “The Smile of the Child” will meet, among others, with the Greek Consul General, Mr. Nicolas Sigalas, members of the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal, as well as the Magic Mission Organization, a key supporter. In Ottawa, “The Smile of the Child” will be received by the Greek Ambassador to Canada, Mr. Georgios Marcantonatos, and have meetings with members of the Greek Ladies Filoptochos Society, the Greek-Canadian MP Mr. Peter Fragiskatos and the President of CARE Canada Mrs. Gillian Barth.
Interviews with local and national media will be conducted in an effort to thoroughly inform their audience on the struggle of “The Smile of the Child” to address an ever-increasing number of challenges stemming from the ongoing socio-economic and migration crises in the country.
(source: The Smile of the Child)