NEW YORK – Pantelis Boumbouras, a businessman and philanthropist from Odessa, Ukraine, where the Filiki Eteria began, on March 22 visited the White House for the annual celebration of Greek Independence. On March 20, Mr. Boumbouras visited New York where he had meetings with expatriates and with his compatriots the Lemnos, who, as he pointed out, impressed him with their hospitality and their love.
He also visited the headquarters of The National Herald, where he spoke with Publisher-Editor Antonis H. Diamataris.
Boumbouras spoke of the pride he felt in visiting the historic newspaper headed by a fellow native of Lemnos.
“We from Lemnos,” he said, “are particularly proud of The National Herald, we consider it our own and its achievements not only delight the dynamic Pan-Lemnian Association of New York and Lemnos, but also all those from Lemnos who live across the globe and the five continents.”
Asked about the U.S. visit goals, he said he always wanted to know more and get to know this country because America helped Greece more than Russia.
“From the first moment I came to New York I’m living a dream. Wherever I go, I meet Greeks. Yesterday, I went to the Lemnians and I found that the Greek element is so evident and powerful that I feel like I’m home,” he said.
Asked why he chose Ukraine, he explained that “in Ukraine I went for the first time in 1997 at Easter as general contractor of Engineering. I saw a future and immediately set up my own company that became a group. My main job is to build several buildings, some to rent out, some to sell more in Odessa, which I love, and in Kiev. There are many Greeks in Mariupol and there I help because they are on the frontlines.”
Referring to his relations with Mariupol, he said that “they began at the time of the late World Council of Hellenes Abroad President, Andrew Athens, who built a diagnostic center.”
He continued, “Andrew Athens was a wonderful person and made me love Mariupol and the Greeks who live there. Odessa, of course, has its own history, because of the Filiki Eteria which began the struggle for the Greek liberation. The Ukrainians are philhellenes and so wherever land, there’s homeland.”
Boumbouras founded the Boumbouras Foundation, the charitable organization.
Asked about the Foundation, he said that “I always helped to spread the Greek language, but I did not have it organized. When the Turks built a park I asked to build a Greek one next to it. I just suggested it to the authorities and they told me that you do not have a foundation and so I founded the Foundation. The Park is progressing and will be finished by the end of summer, early September. I like to offer donations to schools and teachers to teach children in Greece and to give scholarships to a University in Mariupol, as well as medicine for hospitals.
“We also organize various celebrations including for March 25th and Easter. Last year, we fed 6,000 people, and this year we will be over 10,000. The crowd comes to watch Greek dances and taste the Easter meal and it becomes a big feast.
Asked about the situation in Ukraine, he said that “after 21 years of experience and while we believed that something would happen between Ukraine and Russia, eventually, a great deal happened. Right now, we are at a crossroads. Ukraine has begun to look to the West. At this moment, there is a man who can present a solution and he is the President of United States.”
“If he does not present a solution, and this wound continues to bleed, there is a chance that Ukraine will die. In Western Ukraine they are fanatical Ukrainians. We in Odessa are different. If the Russians after Sevastopol and Odessa can make a partnership with the Turks, then it’s goodnight for us. Historically, Ukraine belongs and must always belong to the West,” Boumbouras added.