Hope for Greece

PhilemonPhilemon is driven by a passion to see his native Greece functioning again as a nation where people live in harmony and support each other towards a common well being.

However, the nation faces staggering challenges, for example the unemployment rate stands at 27% percent while 65% of young people ages 15-24 did not find work this summer. 

Greece is currently one of the main gates to “freedom” from the turmoils created by the crisis in Syrian and ISIL. The official number of foreigners living in Greece is 800,000 but this number does not include the estimated 200,000 undocumented migrants

A response to the crisis is embodied by Golden Dome, a neo-Nazi party which is increasingly making itself known as it gains representation in Greek politics and the European Parliament. 

The crowded community of Kypseli, Athens

The crowded community of Kypseli, Athens

In spite of severe limitation of people and money, Philemon and his Streetlights team endeavor to meet these challenges by making their presence known in the Kypseli district of Athens, also known as one of the most densely populated communities in Europe.

The squares of  Kypseli are the stage where Streetlights connect with young people and create spaces where their creativity and talents can be harnessed for the benefit of the community. As people tell their stories, they encourage tolerance and acceptance.

They also run a used clothes shop which has become an income generating center as well as a place to help their customers understand what they are doing to bring a positive message. 

Philemon and his team are passionate to open new avenues of service. They have explored many possibilities but found the best ideas as they meet neighbors and ask them questions seeking to identify solutions to their own problems. An innovative solution was found in Hydroponics. Philemon says “there are lots of empty floor spaces in so many buildings and these can be used to grow food!”. The team has started growing food and they plan to make Hydroponics a regular practice in the community.

Philemon is one friend who understands that dealing with the root issues in society start right people are at, in their local “village”.

Join Philemon and help Streetlights bring life to Greece.

The truth isn’t “sexy”*

Terrorism, sex trafficking, water availability and poverty are the most pressing issues of our day. The impact they have in our daily lives boggles the mind.

A lot of time and money has been invested to deal with these issues yet they remain and continue to get worse.

Is there anything anyone can really do? Are there real solutions?

While at the 21st FICA conference in Columbus, Ohio, I met with a group of Indonesian university students who spent three full days discussing the Development of Small Manufacturing in Indonesia.

As we looked deeply into the issues it became apparent to me that the urgent conditions that have arrested our attention are but symptoms of a much greater problem. The root issue goes deeper and it starts in the village.

While the urban sector represents the majority of the global population, the rural sector still contains 47% of the total population (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs).

Every day large numbers leave their villages and flock to cities looking for a better future. In these cities, a few find employment but must live in deplorable conditions, while most simply languish, adding daily to the explosive growth of slums. I have been in slums from Jakarta to Cairo and the conditions are very similar. Most would like to return “home” but with no jobs, there is little incentive to return.

Langkat, a fisherman village north of Medan

Langkat, a fisherman village north of Medan

Last May, I visited Jentera, Karang Rejo and Langkat, three villages around Medan in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia. I went with Ibu Sora who lives in Medan and for the last year has been running a Micro Loan scheme which she started with her own funds. She now has 1,000 women as her clients!

Each one of these ladies borrowed $100 with a commitment to pay it back in six months, $5 each week. They now run thriving consumable business, assisting their husbands in the support of their families. They are living examples that life in the village can work and work well!

By developing small industries that emerge from within the context and values of the local people, a world of positive and sustainable change can come, creating opportunities for honest employment and development.

A few friends have come to similar conclusions and are focusing their efforts towards sustainable development at the “village” level.

FICA and the Indonesian students in the USA are pursuing opportunities which can change the direction of a generation of people.

I’m joining them and encourage you to look deeper and support efforts which focus on the deeper issues.

*I first heard of “The truth isn’t sexy” from Shannon Hopkins, a fellow warrior investing her life serving people in London

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