Kivotos Tou Kosmou (Ark of the World) is a Greek non-profit and one of the five charities we are supporting financially through our current Project Hope for Greece campaign — #ChildrenOfGreece. Our campaign aims to build a sense of awareness among North Americans about the challenges faced by the most vulnerable members of Greek society – the children. The following story provides an overview of Kivotos and its mission.
Kivotos Tou Kosmou was founded in 1998 by Father Antonios Papanikolaou, a Greek Orthodox priest who realized the grave problems facing abandoned and unprotected children in inner-city Athens where he served his first parish.
The organization has since grown into one of Greece’s most respected and valuable charities, with numerous facilities throughout Greece including Athens, Piraeus, Pogoniani (Epirus), Kalamata, Volos, the island of Chios and elsewhere.
The facilities provide critical services for children who have been abandoned or who are abused at home and in need of a nurturing environment to heal.
Hundreds of children under the organization’s care experience affection and peace, helping to take them away from past poverty, hunger, racism and other blights tormenting our society every day.
In the Epirus facility, for example, children learn skills such as beekeeping, agricultural and dairy farming and other trades that will be useful in their lives once they turn 18 have to live on their own.
From Kivotos: “Christ’s Love being our only ally and with all our available means, we have undertaken to feed the children every day, tend to their needs for clothes, shoes, medical, pharmaceutical and dental care and education.”
In July, Greek America Foundation President and Founder Gregory Pappas visited the Athens and Chios facilities — home to hundreds of children that Kivotos has welcomed with open arms.
During the Athens visit, Pappas was accompanied by Board Chair Manos Sifakis, who joined him in presenting a $5000 check to Kivotos to fulfill the foundation’s latest #ChildrenOfGreece campaign disbursement. Our financial support is especially critical for Kivotos, which receives no government funding and relies solely on the generosity of its donors.
The $5000 check included a $1000 gift from an Ohio teenager named Marina Tsirambidis who received money from her high school graduation party and wanted to donate it to less fortunate children.
In a note accompanying her donation, Marina expressed her interest to live the ideals of both her Greek heritage and her Orthodox Christian faith and visit Kivotos next summer with her family to lend a few hours of their days in Greece volunteering.
During the Chios visit, Pappas met with Fr. Antonios and other Kivotos staff, including the Chios director. Long-term collaborations were discussed, including the strengthening of the relationship with the Greek America Foundation and providing regular trans-Atlantic support, including the expansion of our existing summer volunteer program and annually sending a team of 18-25 year olds from North America to volunteer with Kivotos.
In 2018, Fr. Antonios received the European Citizen’s Prize at the European Parliament in Brussels. The award is given every year to projects and initiatives that contribute to European cooperation and the promotion of common values.
The work that Kivotos is doing throughout Greece is more important than ever — for various reasons — and the financial support that we are providing is critical, given that private donations are the organization’s sole source of revenues.
According to official statistics from Eurostat, Greece’s child poverty rates — an estimated one in every four children face extreme poverty — remain the worst in the European Union.
Medical care, education, social integration and similar necessities are lacking for millions of children in Greece — a direct result of years of crippling austerity and unemployment, not to mention the worst refugee crisis in the country since World War II.
As Kivotos continues to change the lives of hundreds of children annually, the Greek America Foundation strives to help the organization alleviate such alarming statistics.