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Interview with a Volunteer living overseas – Madlen Fontrie

1. What does volunteer work mean to you and how did you decide to become a volunteer for EMFASIS?

photo INTERVEW 1Volunteer work has had deep roots through the years, but unfortunately it has not enjoyed the appreciation it deserves. The most significant notion of social work, is to selflessly offer service or donate in kind, aiming ultimately to help improve certain conditions and circumstances. Causes could be related to people or to the environment. Surely, there are many ways of offering social services addressing different issues. According to me, the most crucial part, is the goal, therefore I consider that the ultimate form of volunteering aims to improve the daily living conditions of our fellow men, something that coincides precisely with the goals and objectives of EMFASIS FOUNDATION.

I am amongst the “lucky ones”, not having to face major problems regarding living conditions. Last year, having gone through a rough period in Greece due to the economic recession, we were presented with the opportunity to move to Dubai, looking for a new start with my family. This was obviously a chance for greater career growth, which I could never pursue in Greece in the given period of time. Living abroad and having solved many of my former problems, I would never allow myself to stay detached from the challenges faced by the rest of the Greeks back home. Given the fact that I have free time available and having faced almost the same problems in the past, I felt compelled to do something, to offer my humble tiny bit of help. Maria Karra gave me this opportunity and I would like to thank her for that.

2.   How did your family and friends take the news?

For my husband it was not something unfamiliar, as I had some similar activity back in Greece. I was 100% sure that he would support me in this venture as well, and he did. Regarding my friends, both those still living in Greece and those here in Dubai, they consider volunteer work to be something vague, more theory and less action. I am delighted I proved them wrong. As for my daughter Katerina, who is just 5 years old, I hope that through her parents’ hands on volunteering she will gain inspiration.

3.   Being away from Greece isn’t a problem?

Not at all, on the contrary in boosts our determination and forges our tenacity to offer to those left behind.

4.   How do you think the Greek community of Dubai could be supportive to the problems of your country?

The cornerstone of any action of the Greek community is to remain united. Together, we can identify areas where it is possible and it makes sense to contribute to our country, and through organised and collective actions to achieve maximum results.

5.   Do you think that private initiatives of Greeks abroad such as EMFASIS, enhance the role of the expatriates and why?

Of course I do. The perception of the people back home for all of us expats, is rather negative. We are those Greeks who during hard times gave up too easily and left. Their perception is that we simply lead a worry-free wealthy life, having forgotten the enormous difficulties of our fellowmen back in our homeland. EMFASIS Foundation proves that this perception is completely mistaken. We, Greek expatriates, having no financial or other state support and without any personal benefit, strive to support our fellow men.

6.   What was your experience at the soccer tournament?

photo INTERVEW 2It was a unique experience. I am very proud to have participated in this tournament, which managed to unite so many Greeks, as well as foreigners, with a single purpose “to help the homeless and needy people around us; victims of the recession.”

7.   Would you welcome any other activities like that?

Of course, I want to see and contribute to new similar actions with the greatest possible participation.

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