Situated at the southern most part of the Balkan peninsula in southeast Europe, Greece has a population of 11 million spread across its mainland and 150 inhabited islands. The country has suffered as a result of the crippling burden of national debt and austerity measures and now grapples with the additional crisis of 50,000 refugees who are stranded in the country. In the capital, Athens faces many problems arising from the exploitation of refugees with a steep rise in prostitution, people-smuggling and drug addiction.
Among the many humanitarian projects working with the most vulnerable people in Athens is the Christian charity, Nea Zoi (New Life). For two decades Nea Zoi has reached out to adults trapped in prostitution offering care, information and practical support. Among its workers is TEN partner, Viorica Tataru who works tirelessly among vulnerable women in the red-light district. Young girls and older women are being forced, coerced and exploited from at-risk situations. Dysfunctional family backgrounds, unemployment, poverty, deceptive offers of employment and sheer desperation can easily lead to entrapment in prostitution.
Viorica explains, “Since prostitution is legal in Greece, brothels are open for 24 hours, 7 days a week and they become literally prisons for many victims who are enslaved and forced into what is called the ‘first profession’.”
Teams of dedicated volunteers walk the streets of Athens at night up to five times every week offering hot and cold drinks, a smile, love and acceptance. Nea Zoi also provide a network of support and referral for those seeking accommodation, food, clothing and an alternative lifestyle. Threads of Hope is a project set up in 2014 to offer training and employment to vulnerable women. Using sewing and craft skills, the project makes a variety of stylish bags. Products are available for purchase online. The project offers discipleship in the Christian faith, as well as training in literacy, book-keeping and computers.
Please pray for Viorica and the work of Nea Zoi in Athens and why not buy a hand-made gift for a friend or family member from the online store? www.threadsofhope.gr