The “Ark of the World” takes care of children that have been experiencing abandonment, racism and social exclusion on a daily basis in one of the most downgraded regions of Athens, the “Platonos” Academy. It was founded in 1998 by Father Antonios Papanikolaou (26 years old at the time) with a vision of creating a place of care, support and hope for a prosperous future for these children, the children of “another” Athens.
Children of “another” Athens
The Ark today takes care of about 200 children – from infants to 18-year-olds – in a multi-religious, multicultural community, which flourishes and achieves great things together. The 150 Greek children, along with children from Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ghana, Afghanistan and Iraq, experience the harmony, affection and peace of the Ark, which provides relief from poverty, hunger, illness, misery, exploitation and illiteracy.
There are volunteers that unselfishly attend to the children’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, entertainment, nursing, and school integration. Other volunteers take care of their education with free tutorial courses and professional training. Volunteers and donors contribute to the social integration of the children under the continuous care of Father Antonios.
Children stay with their mothers
Father Antonios’ goal is to avoid institutionalizing the children and to keep them with their mothers. In order to achieve this, homeless mothers with no income receive economic aid on a monthly basis (rent for small residences, water and electricity bills etc.). Moreover, mothers are helped to find a job to be able to stand on their own feet and take responsibility for their children.
Despite the serious shortage of resources that the Ark faces, including a lack of money and infrastructure, its efforts are very important and have been recognized with national and international distinctions.
Award for best organization for children and honored by UNESCO
The Ark has received awards from two Presidents of the Greek Republic, Mr Konstantinos Stefanopoulos in November 2003 and Mr Karolos Papoulias in December 2005, as one of the best organizations for the well-being of children in Greece. The European Observatory against Racism and Xenophobia described the Ark as “The brightest example against racism and xenophobia in Greece” for the year 2003. In December 2004 the Ark was honored by UNESCO, and in December 2008, Father Antonios Papanikolaou was recognized by the Athens Academy for his humanity and his exceptional voluntary work.
Helping with school stationary
This September, Sika Greece, in tune with the current needs of its social environment, aided the elementary school children by providing them with items of school stationery. School bags full of notebooks, pens and color pencils, as well as pens, calculators and balls were delivered, meeting the different ages and needs.
The items were presented to both the NGO that takes care of children, as well as to its employees' children, filling the atmosphere with smiles and happy voices. Sika Greece, will continue to make an active contribution to society, once more standing by and supporting its weakest but most promising members: the children.