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Rebuild Athens Orphanage

$7,175 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 104 people in 11 months
On July 23rd, a small town of Mati, located 18 miles east of Athens, was devastated by one of Greece's worst wildfires. More than 80 people died in this tragedy. 

The fire nearly completely burnt a monastery (Monastery of the Holy Trinity) and an orphanage Lyreio in Neos Voutzas, which was home to 45 children. Thankfully all residents and guests were able to leave in time, but the buildings were destroyed and need to be completely rebuilt. One of the most immediate needs is restoration of water and electricity and purchase of vans which were also lost in the fire. After that will come the buildings restoration and replacement of all the content (furniture, clothes, equipment).

The Lyreio Orphanage is run by Orthodox nuns and provides home to children from birth until adulthood. They depend only on community support and private donations. This fundraiser is our small effort to help rebuild the monastery by raising funds in America, and hopefully beyond.

My name is Agata McCutcheon. My Greek friends close to the monastery/orphanage asked me to help raise awareness and raise funds for rebuilding.  

Please give generously. 

And then please share this message with several of your friends, asking them to do the same. Thank you for your generosity and help.
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Dear Generous Donors to the Fundraiser,

First things first:
To all of you who are Orthodox - Christ is Risen!
I pray the Risen Lord illuminates and blesses you with His divine Light!

Secondly, please forgive me that this update is so late. I meant to share with you after my visit to the monastery and orphanage in February, but the exhaustion, lack of time, brutal winter, and life and work stresses prevented me from doing it in a timely manner. So this is the long overdue update.

In the middle of February I went on a vacation to Greece (Great Value Vacations had an irresistible price on a package which included a day in Athens and 3 days on Santorini). I used my Athens day to visit - with the help of two wonderful friends of a friend - Mati (the eastern suburb of Athens), and most importantly, the monastery and orphanage. The friends arranged for us to actually meet the Abbes (Maria), who spent a hour with us, describing the horrors of the fire. All of it was in Greek of course, and my friends had translated for me (one of them is writing a book which will contain incredible stories of survival, heroism, miracles and loss which this whole small town went and continues to go through).

At the end of our visit, I gave Abbess Maria an envelope with your money, along with the list of names of all the donors. She was very moved, very grateful and very interested in all of you who gave so generously. I know she will pray for us. I was able to give her 2000 Euros in cash, which was even more valuable than money donated via a bank transfer, as such transfers are taxed by the government!!!

I will add here some photos from the monastery and the surrounding neighborhoods. The devastation there is beyond my ability to describe for you. And nearly 8 months later, there are almost no signs of rebuilding, not at the monastery nor in the area in general. I was told that the government seems to have forgotten them - or rather continues its incompetence, as this incompetence was to blame for a lot of loss of life during the fire.

At the bottom of this update, I will include for you a letter from one of the friends who was my guide and interpreter. His words will give you an idea how much every dollar of your donation will make a direct impact on the monastery and life of the kids from orphanage.

I am planning one last visit there at the end of May, and I have decided to one more time ask you to consider the smallest symbolic donation. Right now I have $1300 in the fundraiser account (partly from cash donations from my friends in Minneapolis, partly from wonderful donors who read about this project on the blog of Fr. Stephen Freeman "Glory to God for All Things", where I squeezed in the mention of it a few times).

If you intended to share this cause with your friends but never got a chance to actually do it, now would be a great time. Maybe we will reach a person or two who intended to give alms in Lent, but never got around to it. This is a very very worthy cause to redirect an equivalent of the cost of a fancy coffee or even a restaurant meal... Also, with Mother's Day on the near horizon, what better way to honor our own mother than by helping kids who don't have one....

Please help me with this last effort and may your generosity be rewarded in amazing and miraculous ways as your gifts return back into your life multiplied many times.

Thank you again for everything!

With much love,
Agata

P.S. I cannot attach more than 3 photos to an update... :-(
Please try seeing more photos on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/agata.mccutcheon

Letter from George:
(only part of it, the full one does not save):

About Lyreion
We all know that after the great fire, there was a sudden and intense interest by several institutions that declared their willingness to donate to Lyreion the necessary funds to rebuilt some of its infrastructures.

For the moment, though, 7 months after, nothing in particular has happened by anyone who has announced donations. Of course, many organization, private and public, as I am sure you've noticed in similar occasions, they make use of the free marketing the circumstances offer, and then they disappear or at the end, they do the 10% they said they would. It's always up to the everyday people to help. Imagine that not a singly euro has been given to the people in Mati and the burnt families by all those who promised to give...

The needs of an institution like Lyreion are extensive in any case. The daily expenses are tremendous under normal periods, much more now that they have to rebuilt everything from scratch once more. Lyreion was totally burnt down once more back in 1995!... It was by the help of thousand of people around the world that helped it rebuild, rather from big companies.
The children are staying temporarily in the facilities of another institution (Zanneion) in nothern Athens.

The Foundation's responsibility for its operation lies with the Holy Women's Holy Monastery of the Holy Trinity. The Foundation is controlled by the Ministries of Economy and Finance and Health and Social Solidarity and is run by a 7-member Board of Directors, consisting of two Metropolitan of Kifissia, Maroussi and Oropou as President, two monks and three folk men and women.

Educating children is one of the most important equipment in their lives and is therefore a basic care of the Lyreio Foundation. The Foundation provides its children with full training at all levels. In particular, there is a Kindergarten with a specialized kindergarten and a three-element Primary School, run by the Abbot-Teacher and under the supervision and control of the Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs. Then, the children attend High Schools and Lyceums of neighboring areas (Nea Makri, Rafina, Pallini).

At the same time, teachers (of whom many volunteers) teach foreign languages, booster lessons, musical instruments, Byzantine music, rhythmic gymnastics, painting and various other useful jobs. In addition, Lyceum children attend classes in the wider region of Northeast Attica (Rafina, Agia Paraskevi) in order to prepare for their admission to Senior and Higher Education Institutions.

In Lireion, devoted nuns, with a sense of responsibility and sensitivity, help children in their study, supervise their toys, support them in their individual problems, bring them to school, accompany them to the sea, excursions, theater, cinema, lectures, camps, parades and other social events.

The children can remain in Lire and after their adulthood, the boys even during their military service. The care of the monks does not stop only in raising and studying children, even reaching their family rehabilitation. Cares for them to be good at children, as any parent would like. Lireios provides children who marry furniture, electrical appliances, clothing and rent for the first few months. To date, more than 40 Foundation weddings have been completed, which have created enviable families that maintain excellent links with the Foundation.

Children know that, even when they leave the Foundation, the nuns in Lireios are supporters and assistants in every step, such as a loving parent. In fact, during the summer period in Lireios there are families whose mothers grew up in it, they studied, married and created their own happy families.

Don't hesitate to contact me about any further info or help you may require on your efforts.

Best regards,

George
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January 20, 2019

Happy New Year to all of you, most generous donors to my campaign for the Athens Orphanage!

Thank you again for your contributions and may you be richly blessed and rewarded for your generosity, in this New Year and for years to come.

I wanted to give this update on the fundraiser:
In total, we have collected more than $4400, of which $3620 came through GoFundMe. I have sent $4000 via wire transfers and I hope to take the rest of the money (currently there is $345 in the account) when I travel to Greece this February.

I would like to ask you to consider making a final small donation of $5 to help me increase this. Maybe you could view this gift as "a ‘good start’ to your charitable efforts in 2019"?

The monastery and the orphanage are nowhere near being restored. I invite you one last time to help them a little. I will update you again after the visit.

Thank you, and please share this request with as many friends as you can.

Sincerely and with heartfelt gratitude,
Agata
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October 5th (2018) update:

Thank you so so much again to all of you who donated to this campaign!

I wanted to let you know that as of today, I have completed two $2000 transfers from the fundraiser to the Orphanage bank account in Greece (to Alpha Bank, one on August 14th and one on Oct 2nd). Even if the GoFundMe balance is less than $4000, this was possible because of several direct donations, mostly from the parishioners of St. Mary's OCA Cathedral, my home parish in Minneapolis.

I am most grateful to all of you who continue to donate!

I was able to receive the confirmation that the Abbess Maria has received both transfers and is grateful for our gifts. This was thanks to a young American philanthropist who is working with the monastery directly. Michael Boosalis (son of Dr. Harry Boosalis, a well known Orthodox writer and teacher) runs an organization called "Critical Relief for Children" and is based in Athens. Michael shared with me some of the photos and reassured me that our collection is of great value and very appreciated.

Please check out the FB page for:
"The Lyreio Children's Orphanage in Rafina, Greece"
to see what you are helping rebuild....

Thank you for your great generosity, and let's continue our effort into the Holiday Season... The season that is meant to remind us how much we have and how everything we have is God's gift to us.

Please reach out to me if you have any questions.
Gratefully and sincerely,
Agata
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August 8th update on the fundraiser:
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all who donated!

I just wanted to share with you that your donations will make a huge difference. There was news in Greek media about famous philanthropies and donors stepping up to help, so many small donors stayed away. Well, my friends close to the monastery tell me that nothing concrete (of these large donations) materialized in the bank accounts of the Orphanage as of yet, and the Abbess is facing a big problem: these big pledges scared away the small donors and there is nothing to actually help them.... Please donate $5, $10 and reach out to all who may be willing to do the same. Giving from our 'poverty' is much more precious than giving from great abundance of the rich and famous...
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$7,175 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 104 people in 11 months
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