The Ark of the World in Epirus is located at the mountainous and frontier village of Pogoniani at Ioannina, just nine hundred and fifty metres from the Greek-Albanian borders. Aware of the fact that the place was abandoned and desolate, coupled with the need to create a Child Protection Centre in Epirus, Father Antonios took the risk of creating the first branch of the Ark of the World at the edge of Greece, at Pogoniani in Epirus.
The key objective of the Ark of the World at Pogoniani is for the children to stand firm on their feet, with all the assistance they need to integrate in society. The Home of the Ark of the World in Epirus was designed with many dreams and ambitions and aims at creating a modern Child Protection Centre, with programmes and services carefully designed to ensure a safe and dignified life for every child, and operating the agricultural school, ensuring for children proper training in primary sector fields and offering them remarkable future vocational chances and, at the same time, contributing to the development of Epirus, which is slowly depopulating.
Our Home opened its doors on 26.12.2013 and welcomed our children with a warm embrace and many happy colours. It is properly designed to offer moments of peace to the children, help them spend their time in a pleasant and constructive manner and create unique memories to last for a lifetime.
The Ark of the World in Epirus is housed in building of 8900 m2. The building belongs to the National Youth Foundation; it was built in 1974 and operated as a students’ house. In 2013 the Youth and Lifelong Learning Foundation (INEVIDIM) and the Municipality of Pogoni gave the building to the Ark of the World and is now a modern Children’s Home. It can accommodate up to 120 children who came to us by prosecutor’s order. Our main concern is provide protection, education and love to children who have experienced abandonment, abuse, exploitation and neglect. Our Home is fully staffed with special instructors, psychologists and social workers, people with patience, love and care for children. Our objective is to offer an appropriate and safe Home for the children and help them grow in love and care. We strive every day to meet the multiple needs of our children as regards food, clothing and footwear, education, medical care and any other everyday need.
Our key goal is to create a warm family that will embrace the children with love and affection and raise them with values and ideals to become decent adults.
The children’s activities
The daily routine of our children includes homework, supportive tuition, English and computer lessons, as well as sports teams, swimming and judo lessons.
They spend their free time with various activities. They can practice sports (football, volleyball, basketball) in the courts of our Home and of the village, playing with the other children. They can also discover new places by hiking and, depending on the season, they pick various products (mountain tea, oregano, walnuts, almonds etc.). They can also go for wonderful bike rides.
We try to make the weekends a special experience for children; we take excursions in the broader area of Epirus, we go to the movies, the theatre or concerts, we attend and take part in various events. We practice rafting and horse-riding or have picnics by the river. Children grow up outdoors, away from the dangers of the city. They go to the countryside to play and explore and, most importantly, they come to contact with the nature every day, which offers them peace and joy.
The Agricultural School of the Ark of the World
The Ark of the World focuses on training the children in primary-sector activities. When the Ark of the World’s Home at Pogoniani was established, the village’s elementary school operated again, having remained closed for many years. Moreover, the junior high school of the village received a significant number of students. The Ark of the World supplements the children’s schooling every day by running programmes aiming at educating them and provide them with important vocational chances in the sectors of agriculture and stockbreeding. The Agricultural School’s workshops attended by the children every day include:
- The Greenhouse: Children can take care of their gardens every day. Each child is responsible for his/her own garden and, therefore, whatever as they sow so shall they reap! With the greenhouse, our production remains consistent all year round. Our garden produces delicious tomatoes, beans, strawberries, onions, corn, spinach, lettuce and many other fruit and vegetables.
- The farm: Children take care of our farm animals on a daily basis (lambkins, baby goats, calves, chicken, small horses, geese, ducks etc.). Through this process, they have the chance to develop their skills and abilities, become responsible people and receive continuous training and specialization in matters that will assist them and their land in the future.
- Traditional Products Workshop: The Workshop has been successfully operating for the past eleven months and our Home is filled with scents, colours, sweet and savory treats prepared with joy and love by our children. Guided by people knowledgeable in pastry, the children prepared delicious sweet preserves and jams. Our breakfast is now accompanied by strawberry, peach and orange jam, while many of our stories around the fireplace are dressed with apple cinnamon, lemon, tangerine and grape preserves. Our workshop naturally offers traditional trahana pasta, which is in high demand during the winter.
- Our shop: The joy of the people is not only to create, but also to share. Our products are sold in our Shop and visitors may enjoy traditional sweet preserves and jams, our variety of sauces, handmade cosmetic soaps, oregano from our mountain and trahana. We prepare our products depending on the season and the fruit that nature generously offers us.
- Our Apiary: Being a mountainous village, Pogoniani offers one of the most delicious and special varieties of honey. Beekeepers should work with love and care to have the desired results, to be enjoyed by their customers. The Apiary Workshop of the Ark of the World in Epirus aspires to train the children in beekeeping and acquaint them with the process of making honey, royal jelly, beeswax and candles. This is art that will not only provide them with knowledge and skills, but will also teach them to patient and persistent. Our Workshop has the necessary beekeeping equipment. Bees are kept in appropriate places and children have undertaken to care for them under the guidance and supervision of experienced beekeepers.
- Our Cheese Workshop: Being a mountainous and stockbreeding area, Epirus has a long tradition in dairy production. This is why we decided to direct our children towards this art as well. In our cheese workshop, children will be trained in producing white and yellow cheese, traditional galotyri cheese, butter and yogurt. The raw material, i.e. milk, is organic and will come from our farm animals; therefore quality is guaranteed and our dairy products will go directly from production to consumption. We have already started shaping the area that will house our cheese workshop.
The Social Pharmacy in Pogoniani: The Social Pharmacy is housed at the Child Protection Centre; in collaboration with all healthcare bodies (pharmacies, hospitals, health centres), it fully meets the pharmaceutical needs of our children. The Social Pharmacy also helps destitute families and solitary persons with financial difficulties in the broader area of the Municipality of Pogoni by providing pharmaceutical coverage.
The Social Dental Clinic in Pogoniani: Our social dental clinic is also housed at the Child Protection Centre in Pogoniani, providing dental care to our children. The services of the social dental clinic are provided free of charge to destitute families and children of the Municipality of Pogoni in need of dental care. Volunteer dentists from the Dental Association of Ioannina are very sensitive people who offer their services, information and advice on proper dental prevention.
Social Grocery Store:Our social grocery store is also housed in the Child Protection Centre in Pogoniani. Our social grocery store counts on the items selflessly provided by simple people and our sponsor companies. It meets the needs of families and solitary people of the Municipality of Pogoni in food, clothing and footwear.
Social Service: : The objective of the Social Service is to care for and provide psycho-social support to the children accommodated in our Home.
- It undertakes to welcome and help new children integrate in our large family, so that they can feel the generous love, security and peace that their new Home offers them.
- It is responsible for maintaining safe communication of the children with persons from their family environment.
- It is informed on a weekly basis of the children’s progress at school.
- It is responsible for organising the children’s activities, excursions and vacations.
- It provides supporting services to children in collaboration with child psychiatrists, psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists etc.
- It takes care of their medical issues and maintains constant contact with the doctors who attend to the children.
- It welcomes, directs, trains and supervises volunteers, depending on the area of their voluntary work.
- It provides information to the local society and visitors about the important and multifaceted work of the Ark of the World.
- It looks for, supports and supervises families and persons with financial difficulties who are supported by the social dental practice, the social pharmacy and the social grocery store.
It has been created for the children and it is always by the children with consistency, responsibility and trust, ensuring their dignity and giving them motivation and stimuli to be good people throughout their life, respecting principles, values and their fellow people.
Volunteerism: Volunteerism is a tangible act of giving and should be rewarded as such. We believe that it is our duty to be humane and the volunteers of the Ark operate in this line of thought. Volunteerism does not originate from obligation or compulsion; it is founded simply and only on the person’s desire to offer. Since the establishment of the Ark, plain people were the ones who loved the work and assisted in any way they could. The work of the Ark of the World’s volunteers in Pogoniani is very important and necessary for its operation. Even the difficulties created by the distance from Ioannina have been overcome thanks to our volunteers’ positive attitude and selfless feeling of offering. You can offer volunteer work in these areas:
- Supportive teaching for the children
- Recreational activities
- Preparation of the Home (cooking, cleaning, ironing)
- Assistance in the maintenance of the Home (outdoor cleaning, electrical and plumbing works, painting etc.)
- Escorting in medical appointments at health centres and hospitals in Ioannina
- Transportation of materials from Ioannina
- Legal services
- Child psychiatrists
- Speech therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Any other speciality that can tend to the needs of our children.
Volunteers are essential for our work; they stand by us in every step we take and follow us faithfully. Το They are motivated only by their love for the children and know how to give and receive love.
Volunteers who wish to apply must telephone the competent social worker to arrange for a meeting. We are at your disposal every day from 09.00 to 17.00.
Development of the area: Pogoniani is a small village with only 60 permanent residents. When the Ark came to the area, the place was revived. The voices of children gave life to the village and they all call our children by their first name. We are now fellow villagers and not just residents of the area. The elementary school of the village opened its doors again and the bell rang after two years that the school was closed. The children play in the yard around the tree that changes looks depending on the season, with golden, green and snowy branches, and the number of pupils keeps increasing. The junior high school of the village was reinforced by a significant number of students, thereby avoiding the risk to close because of depopulation.
The Ark did not only contribute to opening and preserving the schools of the village; it has also provided work to about 100 technicians and scientists since its launch. It employs 25 people (social workers, instructors, cooks, technical and auxiliary staff) on a permanent basis for the children’s everyday needs and all the others have contributed to building and maintaining the Home (engineers, electricians, plumbers, technicians etc.). Most of the workers live in Pogoniani and the broader area of the Municipality of Pogoni and Ioannina. In a heavily abandoned and depopulated area, it is very important to create new jobs and choose professionals who live there. Finally, high visitation rates and the interest of people, schools and associations in getting to know our Home in Pogoniani and embrace our work also helps in developing local tourism and boosting local stores, since people will visit them and come to contact with the history and tradition of the area.
The major vision of Father Antonios and the Ark of the World in Epirus is to keep this place at Pogoni alive. We expect that a large number of children growing up in our Home at Pogoniani will remain in the area. These children will have their own jobs, have their families and live a decent life.
We need financial support to meet the requirements of the Home of the Ark of the World in Pogoniani at Ioannina, which include reconstruction costs, operating expenses (salaries, utility bills, fuel for the transportation of children), construction of the cheese workshop and operation of our workshops.
For the smooth operation of our Home in this period, the following items and services would be useful:
- For the transportation of our children, a thirty-seat coach and two 9-seat vans.
- Change of wood frames to aluminum to preserve indoor temperature, especially during the winter.
- A new professional oven for our kitchen.
- Heating oil and diesel for the transportation of our children, provision of hot water and heating of the Home in the winter.
- Technicians (painters, plumbers, electricians, ironmongers etc.)
- New computers for the computer room.
Offers of love
Please support us by calling 19888 from any landline or cell phone (charge: 2.46€/call) or by sending a message to 19888 (2.46€/sms) or by calling 901 11 170 (3.67€/call in the OTE network).
Epirus Bank: 3030005163300-5
Eurobank: 0026 0178 870100 872073
Piraeus Bank: : 5023-032595-870
The Ark of the World in Epirus