KAVALA – The Home of The Smile of the Child organization and the adjacent Socratous Street in Nea Iraklitsa, Kavala, were renamed in honor of Nelson Mandela on July 18. The ceremony coincided with Nelson Mandela International Day, celebrated annually on the South African leader's birthday.
This initiative was taken to honor the great political leader and philanthropist who devoted his life to the fight for equality and justice, and to fulfill the wish of the late Ioannis Symeonidis, donor of the building, who had been active in South Africa.
The UN General Assembly declared Mandela's birthday as an international day, in recognition of the former South African President's contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world. With this initiative, The Smile of the Child commemorates Nelson Mandela and his struggle against injustice. At the same time, the Organization honors his contribution to the change of the course of history and recognizes his influence on rights activists around the world.
The ceremony was attended by the Ambassador of South Africa to Greece H.E. Ms. Beryl Rose Sisulu, The Smile of the Child President Costas Yannopoulos, the Honorary Consul General of South Africa in Thessaloniki Vassilios Takas, the Mayor of Paggaio Filippos Anastasiadis, Mayor of Kavala Theodoros Mouriadis, the representative of the Holy Monastery Eleftheroupolis, the Deputy Mayors of the Municipalities of Kavala and Paggaio, the 1st Deputy Director of the Kavala Police Directorate, Police Director Christos Stampoulis, Municipal and Local Councilors, as well as relatives of the late Ioannis Symeonidis and supporters of The Smile of the Child.
The organization's President Costas Yannopoulos thanked the local community that years ago wholeheartedly welcomed the opening of the Home of the organization in Nea Iraklitsa, Kavala, and said, “Today is especially important for the extended family of The Smile of the Child. The late Ioannis Symeonidis, a great man who had a genuine interest for his fellow citizens and children, donated his property to our organization, giving us the opportunity to support even more children in the area. Today, we are fulfilling a great wish of his.”
Yannopoulos also addressed the fruitful cooperation of the organization with the Embassy of South Africa and noted, “We all share deep respect for the work of Nelson Mandela. It is very important that we keep his memory vivid and we pass it on to our children, because such great personalities inspire the new generation, creating the potential for a future free of evil, wars and violence.”
The Ambassador of South Africa to Greece H.E. Ms. Beryl Rose Sisulu congratulated The Smile of the Child President Costas Yannopoulos, for the organization's efforts, emphasizing that this a particularly important day for the relations between Greece and South Africa, as Greece honors the former President Nelson Mandela through this memorable actions. She quoted Mandela's words, “The true character of a society is revealed in the way it treats its children.” She further noted the common values shared by Nelson Mandela, the late Ioannis Symeonidis, and the 10-year-old founder of The Smile of the Child, Andreas Yannopoulos.
The Honorary Consul General of South Africa in Thessaloniki Vassilios Takas referred to the importance of the work and actions of Nelson Mandela, whom he characterized as a one-of-a-kind leader. He further congratulated The Smile of the Child President Yannopoulos and noted that “The Smile of the Child helps the Greek society to show its best face.”
Mayor of Paggaio Filippos Anastasiadis thanked the Ambassador of South Africa for her mediation with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, so that the Home and the adjacent Socrates Street would be named after Nelson Mandela. He further thanked the relatives of the great benefactor, the late Ioannis Symeonidis, whose donation he characterized as “a brave initiative that sets the example.”
Mayor of Kavala Theodoros Mouriadis expressed his admiration for the late Ioannis Symeonidis, who generously acted in the spirit of Nelson Mandela's vision. He said, “Nelson Mandela achieved the impossible, proving in action that love and peace is achievable between nations in the world.”
The Smile of the Child Home in Nea Iraklitsa, Kavala is a donation of the late Ioannis Symeonidis. It opened in 2009, initially serving as a summer residence for children growing up in the Home of the organization. In 2017, it was transformed into a fully operational Home for minors who need to grow up in a safe environment, regardless of nationality, religion or any other criteria.