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Editorial

Once Again, It’s Time for Hellenes Abroad to Discharge Their Debt to the Homeland

Hellenes Abroad are watching with bated breath the catastrophic wildfires that for almost ten days have been turning large swaths of Greek territory to ashes.

And, as in any national crisis – because that is exactly what we are talking about – they are thinking about how they can help alleviate the pain of their compatriots.

There is no doubt that the Hellenes Abroad will do everything in their power to help Greece, particularly the regions they themselves hail from.

Expatriates, individually or in groups, have always examined the needs of the motherland – especially the region from which they hail from – and have offered everything they could for the relief of ‘their people.’

Our history has taught us that this phenomenon repeats itself over and over again. When Greeks call out for help, the Diaspora listens. They rise up without hesitation to help their brothers and sisters in the homeland – because Greece’s pain is their pain and Greece’s hurt is their hurt.

On the other hand, it is in times of crisis that the shortcomings of Hellenes abroad can be seen most clearly, mainly in the organizational field.

There seems to be a lack of an umbrella organization that would coordinate the action of the expatriates in each country and between the various countries. A kind of informal ‘government’ of expatriates.

May this crisis be the springboard for the emergence of such an organization, an organization whose need during calmer times is not easily seen, but which becomes obviously necessary in times like these.

And because no one ever knows when a crisis may break out – beyond the certainty that there will inevitably be crises – it is good to have such an organization that will work to gain the trust of people in the Diaspora.

On the other hand, I wish that Greece had the infrastructure that would ensure transparency and the quick and efficient use as well as management of the contributions of the Diaspora.

Regarding where contributions and actions are most needed, deficiencies in firefighting equipment are serious, as evidenced by the fact that the fires still continue to wreak havoc.

Based on past experience, the danger of the wildfires will not pass before the end of this summer.

On the contrary, it is a constant seasonal threat to the country.

The Hellenic Diaspora could, in cooperation with the leadership of the Greek Fire Service, buy, for example, one or more fire trucks.

Of course, we as Hellenes abroad have our own problems – we are going through our own crisis with the pandemic, as are our fellow citizens in the countries where we live.

But this is not the first time. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, as well as during the world wars, the Greek Diaspora continued to make contributions to Greece – i.e. the Greek War Relief fund – and often despite their own financial shortcomings. Hellenes abroad funded schools and churches, fed and clothed orphans, sent large sums of money in remittances which created jobs – and finally, created hope.

It is true that in past crises expatriates felt disappointment over the way they were often treated from Greece’s side – but they still did their duty.

However, the challenges of emigration, the hardships to which the immigrant is subjected, and the sacrifices they needed to make, along with the new experiences they acquired, matured the immigrants, and gave them a loftier perspective from which they could better deal with various problems.

They know how to ignore past abuses, indifference, and insults during times of crisis when Greece needs their help. They are able to look at the big picture, and not miss the forest of the homeland for the frustrations of the individual trees.

The Diaspora will do the same in this crisis. And not for the sake of anyone else, but for themselves, out of love and the debt they feel for their motherland. Out of Philotimo. 

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