#OURHEROES: Konstantinos Papadakis_Can I make a difference?

The COVID-19 period and the security measures we have adopted have changed the way we live and the way we have worked so far. The conditions have become even more difficult in areas that were under quarantine. One such area is the Malakasa Open Accommodation Center, one of the camps where SolidarityNow operates and currently is under quarantine due to coronavirus confirmed cases.

Unfortunately, one of the patients was a single parent who had to be hospitalized, leaving behind his three minor children. From that moment on, our work began since we had to take care of three children who were also in quarantine, away from their father and without being able to communicate with him.

Our specialized team in child protection and the mental health professionals of SolidarityNow in Malakasa started a daily communication with the three siblings, offering them support in every possible way. First of all, we wanted to ensure, that all of them were in good health, both physically and mentally and also to encourage them to be optimistic about the future. We visit them regularly and ensure that they have all the essentials they need.

At the same time, we are in constant contact with the hospital where the father is being treated, and actually, we are the only way for the children to learn about his health.

So, gradually, and through our daily communication, we built a relationship of trust with the children. We managed to have direct communication with their father and we notice now that the children are comforted because they feel there are in an environment on which they can rely. And this is something that, under these conditions, takes time and requires a lot of strength.

I won’t forget when one night my phone rang. It was a telephone number from Germany. I picked it up and on the other end of the line was the older sister of the children, who wanted to thank me for what we are doing for her family.

I share this story because it answers to many of my own questions. Is what we do enough? Is all these a futile effort? Can I make a difference?

With this phone call I realized that our efforts are not in vain and felt grateful for being able to support people not to lose hope. And for me, that is enough to make me continue with even greater commitment to do what I do.

I am Konstantinos Papadakis and I am a Teacher and Team Leader at the Malakasa Open Accommodation Center. I am working at the Child & Family Support Hubs project, which is implemented by SolidarityNow with the support of UNICEF and IOM Greece and funded by the European Commission.