#OURHEROES: Yiannis Kafkas_Lust for life

Working as a psychologist at the Athens Solidarity Center, every day I challenge myself through people’s different and usually, harsh stories. Stories of people facing the effects of poverty, the anxiety of unemployment, the uncertainty of migration, the effects of fear caused by the experience of war or persecution. I often tell people that if we compare our lives with a journey, my role is to be a helpful travelling companion for them until they feel confident enough to continue the journey on their own. When I see my work through this perspective, I feel fortunate for being able to travel through people’s lives and thus enrich myself with experiences, knowledge, and feelings. For all these, I am grateful.

, Currently, we have all been called upon to deal with an unprecedented situation. At the Athens Solidarity Center, we quickly tried to adapt to the new conditions in order to continue providing our services to those who need them most. The team’s lateral thinking, flexibility, and goodwill moves me every single day.

I wondered where all this energy and strength came from. So, I thought that for all those who are seeking help at the Center, the crisis did not start with the coronavirus pandemic. For undocumented individuals, a walk outside was always a scary thing. For the people who don’t have health security, any disease can be threatening. For the people who have been waiting countless years for the completion of their asylum case, uncertainty has always been a part of their life. For homeless people, the message “We stay Home” sounds ironic.

The energy and the strength are part of the skills we need to have in our work so as to bridge the gap caused by fear, threat and uncertainty. The numerous ways that people find to meet and overcome the challenges, their lust for life, all these, are our inspiration.

I am Giannis Kafkas and I am a Phycologist and Coordinator of the Psychological support – Counseling Service at the Athens Solidarity Center, which is financed by EEA and Norway Grants, with HumanRights360 and CROWE Greece as the fund operator. The Center is also supported by the Municipality of Athens.