Agorayouth: Despina and Lefteris, you managed to found an organization named entaxis in Kavala in Northern Greece that has the aim to address the rights of youth and organize educational activities for youngsters in this rural area. Tell us some more details about the organization and whom you want to reach...
Lefteris: In 2020, after a long bureaucratic process that lasted about two years, we managed to found a legal not-for-profit organization called entaxis – action for inclusion and education. The word entaxis derives from the Greek word ενταξις which is associated with inclusion and integration. We gave this name to the organization, because this is exactly our aim: to support all disadvantaged persons from rural areas who need assistance in their social development.
Despina: In the beginning we aimed to reach youth aged 15 to 25 with fewer opportunities, but through our initial educational activities we had older persons who approached us for social support. Thus, through the newly established organisation we aim for a more holistic approach for our target group to reach youth and adults in middle and senior age who have fewer opportunities due to geographical restrictions, special needs or persons who face social challenges in their lives, who are illiterate and/or have dropped out of school – and as well those who wish to overcome educational and social barriers. This target group includes persons who attend senior high school, families, elderly persons who are marginalised, university students, persons not in education, employment and/or training, and those with special needs. Due to the pandemic most of our plans have been on hold until further notice.

Obviously, this all is a process. At which stage are you at the moment to have all the rights an NGO in Greece has and to start running educational projects?
Lefteris: In 2020 we managed to found our organization. However, you are right. The stage where our organization has all the legal rights to run its activities has not yet been reached. In September 2020 we managed to have the statute of our non-governmental organization approved, signed, and registered to our local court of first instance. The next step was to register our organization in the local tax office. We completed that step in October 2020. To our surprise, we also had to complete some more administrative processes in order to be fully operational and “legal”. The last step, which has not yet been completed and it is not anticipated to happen soon anyway due to the restrictive governmental measures, is to have elections for the selection of the board of directors of the organization. Once this will be completed, our organisation will have the right to open a bank account, implement educational activities, receive and spend funds, and proceed to other administrative processes. Despite though our willingness and passion for our cause, we still have to deal with the bureaucracy and the strict laws of the Greek system which are making our vision more difficult.

How did this all start, what was your motivation and why you felt the need to do something like this?
Despina: The first step was in 2010 when as a teacher and volunteer I was involved in activities with young people with fewer opportunities and health problems. Since 2011, I have been involved in organising Erasmus+ projects as a youth worker in several cities of Greece, mainly in the North, and in Cyprus. In the meantime, I realised that there is a gap in the region of my hometown. Young people did not know about the opportunities that are deriving from participation in European educational activities. For instance, the Erasmus opportunities for studies, training, employment, and acculturation. At first, our goal was the integration of young people with disabilities in such activities, because such initiatives in Greece have totally been overlooked both at a local and at a regional level – comparing to other countries. Just think that only the last five years in our region occurred some institutional changes in favor of these young people and their families with the establishment of special education schools and parents‘ associations.

And in 2016 you established an informal youth group?
Despina:
Yes, in Greece, especially in rural areas, there is still a total lack of systemic governmental support for marginalized persons who face emotional, physical, and geographical challenges. Youth in rural areas who live far from the big urban centres Thessaloniki or Athens do not have opportunities to join organisations with a social cause and support services. Thus, our goal was to create first a group of persons who share similar needs. We managed to do that by connecting with youth with fewer opportunities from the rural areas of Northern Greece. Such persons are youth with restricted access to social services due to geographical location and persons with special needs like dyslexia, autism and physical disabilities.

And what is your vision for running the organisation in practice?
Despina: Well, our goal is to establish a centre for education and life-long learning and participate in as many projects as we can. In addition, we aim to provide social and educational support to vulnerable groups and to organise volunteer and solidarity projects. Furthermore, we aim at making our village a pole of cultural, educational, and social attraction to engage people from other countries. 

Can you imagine to get started in German-Greek youth and/or youth worker exchange? In which kind of projects and partner organizations you would be interested? 
Despina: Certainly German organizations are one of our partners „target list“ and we would be proud to start collaborative projects as we could share good and bad field practices. Additionally, we share some common attitudes as individuals, but we also have cultural differences which once shared we feel they can enrich both communities in their perspectives in life. We would be interested in projects and organisations who work in the field of youth, human rights, inter-generation communication, lifelong training, acculturation, sports, and special needs. They can be activities organised by EU funded projects, local authorities, informal groups, schools, and social and educational institutions.

interview: Lisa Brüßler
pictures: entaxis – action for inclusion and education

contact: Despoina Chatzisavva: d.chatzisavva@entaxis-aie.org and info@entaxis-aie.org


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