The Ark of the World is a Charitable Nonprofit Organisation caring for mothers and their children, most of which are homeless, abandoned, without food, shelter or medical care. Furthermore there are quite a few of our children that are orphaned or completely abandoned by any family members they have in their past. The "Ark of the World" was founded in 1998 by Father Antonios Papanikolaou, armed with nothing but his love for children and his desire to create a warm nest of affection and care for these "other" children of Athens, children who had been faced with day after day abandonment, indifference, racism and social exclusion. In the course of 20 years of operation we ... read more The Ark of the World is a Charitable Nonprofit Organisation caring for mothers and their children, most of which are homeless, abandoned, without food, shelter or medical care. Furthermore there are quite a few of our children that are orphaned or completely abandoned by any family members they have in their past. The "Ark of the World" was founded in 1998 by Father Antonios Papanikolaou, armed with nothing but his love for children and his desire to create a warm nest of affection and care for these "other" children of Athens, children who had been faced with day after day abandonment, indifference, racism and social exclusion. In the course of 20 years of operation we have taken actions and introduced innovative measures to help the people we care for. Our diverse projects and actions, as follows: 1) Soup kitchen and various activities in Athens. With the Love of Christ as our sole ally and with just meager means at our disposal, we give out meals to 500 children per day; we also tend to their needs for clothing, footwear, medical care, psychological support, education and vocational training, while at the same time we monitor and support their families. We also run a social grocery store that offers some relief to another 150 families not involved in our daily schedule. 2) "A Roof over their head" mother & child project One of Father Antonios' aims is to avoid institutionalization of the mothers and children, but try and find a way to get their life back. To this end, homeless and destitute mothers receive monthly allowances to pay rent and keep a roof over their head. The Ark is giving monthly allowances to approximately 150 mothers and single parent poor families in order to keep their homes and pay utility bills; at the same time, scholarships are given to thme to learn a trade and we put in our efforts for the mother to find a job, so that she may stand on her own feet, taking control of her life and assume the responsibility of her children. 3) Our professional training workshops Given that the people we look after usually have low levels of education and skills, we try to train them in different areas and skills, such as cooking, sewing, childcare and care for the elderly, hairdressing, crafts and handicrafts etc. The purpose of this is to enable our trainees to find work on their own or with our assistance and to make a living according to their skills rather than become beggars. 4) Our Youth Shelters The Ark of the World runs four shelters for children in Athens, Piraeus, Anixi where an important part of our activities is being carried out. We take in children of all ages, from early childhood up to adulthood. The Ark of the World is their daily supporter, providing them with everything necessary for their healthy development and safety. Many of these children have been abandoned and/ or neglected or removed from their family environment by order of juvenile courts due to abuse, exploitation or severe neglect. The children are enrolled in educational programs and daily activities; they are taken from the shelter to their schools, to doctor's appointments and to their individual activities (tutorials, speech and/ or occupational therapy, theatrical performances, excursions, etc). In total we provide accommodation for 200 children in our shelters. 5) The Center for Child Care and Protection in Pogoniani Epirus and Konitsa The Ark of the World recently expanded its activity to the village Pogoniani in the Epirus Region, barely 800 meters from the Greek-Albanian border, a region with increased needs for social structures and economic boost. We strived to create a structure to accommodate and embrace children, youths and families who need support and protection and/ or professional training. This is also a project of national importance since the above structure was created to a most sensitive part of the Greek-Albanian border, a desolate region that we hope to bring back to life. More specifically, in December 2013 the Ark of the World established a Child Protection Center in the village of Pogoniani, right next to the Greek-Albanian border, where fifty-six youngsters aged between six and seventeen years have already found a warm heaven of loving care. In January 2014, the Elementary School of Pogoniani reopened after many years and children's voices were once more heard in this former village of just 50 aged residents. You realize of course that we see ourselves as soldiers. In a difficult time for our country, we are investing in a border region to support it. Pogoniani however is a very small village and lies 67 km from Ioannina where most of our children's activities take place. In our new premises in Pogoniani we have also established a Farm School with agricultural production and animal husbandry orientation, where young students from 15 years of age get to learn the basics in agriculture, stock-breeding, beekeeping, cheese-making etc. This way they are given the tools that will enable them to stay in the region, to work and to have a chance at a healthy start in life. The facility in Pogoniani has already provided many young people with a full vocational training in order to engage in the primary sector and ensure a dignified life in a region that has so much to offer but whose resources unfortunately remain untapped so far. We are currently in the process of purchasing the dairy and apiary equipment as well as the necessary livestock. The purchase of this equipment is essential for us, because we are preparing to launch pure organic products (jams, trahana, dairy products, honey, handicrafts etc.) from our production in order to boost our revenues and so make our facility sustainable and independent. Ark of the World expanded its activity to Konitsa Epirus in the Epirus region in 2017 with a new youth shelter. 6) The Child Care and Protection Village in Chios. Both Father Antonios and his wife originate from the island of Chios and "bear" the island in their heart; so, when given the chance to help their hometown, they wouldn't pass up this opportunity and thus the Child Care and Protection Village in Chios was created. It was established in September 2014 in Epos in Chios, 15 minutes away from the village of Vrontados. The existing facilities were renovated and today 30 children are accommodated there. The Village serves the entire Aegean Region, from Lemnos to Rhodes. Much like our facility in Pogoniani, the Chios premises are also farm-oriented. We have available land and run a small farm with a vegetable garden, a flower garden, an olive grove and farm animals. Our action embraces children, adolescents and the families of those in need of support, protection and / or vocational training. 7)The Center for Child Care and Protection in Volos. It was established in November 2016 in Volos (Central Greece). The Ark of the World in Volos is located at Dimini, Magnesia, only three kilometres away from the city of Volos. With God's grace and blessing, the Child Protection Centre is a special and innovative child hospitality structure in Greece. It is addressed to children at risk, children who have experienced traumatic events in their life, children who come to us by prosecutor's order. The Home hosts only boys, from infanthood to adulthood. It currently raised twenty seven (27) boys, while it can accommodate up to thirty five (35) children. Our main concern is for the children to grow up in a beautiful and loving family, in which they can feel security, affection, peace and protection and receive all that is necessary to spread their wings and meet the demands of modern life with dignity. We focus on properly raising the children and providing psychosocial care and education so that they can become virtuous people, able to handle the difficulties of everyday life and be useful to other people. Much like our facility in Pogoniani, the Volos premises are also farm-oriented. 8) Vacations and excursions for our children Every summer we strive to find vacation destinations for our children since, as you may guess, they cannot afford to make holidays by their own means. So we are trying to visit the most beautiful places of our country, although this is not always possible. 9) The program for semi-independent living for young adults. This project arose from the need of the children when they become 18 years of age and legally no longer qualify as children, but as young adults; without a family, income and support, their choices are truly limited. The Ark backs our children up as they become adults until they manage to stand on their own feet. We provide them with living quarters and cover their expenses; allowances are given to young people as a support during their studies and throughout their military service. After high school, they attend higher education establishments or enroll in apprenticeship programs to learn the trade in real working conditions and be trained by real professionals (plumbers, electricians, and car mechanics).
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