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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 20 June 2015
NEWS 6 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 20 JUNE 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Sharing homes: a new approach to social support A Greek migrant opens her heart and home to an 86-year-old disabled Aussie NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU An innovative program has helped a disabled Australian woman and a Greek widow living in Melbourne create a relationship of stability and companionship. Non-profit organisation Care Connect brought together 86-year-old Rose and 48-year-old Olympia, offering them a chance to continue living independently and assist each other in a safe, supported environment via Homeshare. The program is matching seniors and people with a disability with housemates who are happy to lend an extra hand in exchange for rent-free accommodation. "If it wasn't for Homeshare, I would be in a nursing home for sure," says Rose, whose health is declining due to heart problems and mobility issues. "Olympia is just marvellous and helps me with so much." The two have been living together in Rosanna for eight months. Rose's husband passed away in 2014 and her adult children live far away, whereas Olympia, who returned to Australia after living in Greece for the past 30 years, craved for a sense of belonging. Homeshare has been operated internationally for more than 25 years, but this is the first time it's been offered across Melbourne's north and west. "With Australia's population ageing and the proportion of individuals who live alone on the rise, we need to find new ways to support each other as a community," Care Connect Chief Executive Officer Paul Ostrowski said. "By providing additional support at home, Homeshare can also help to alleviate some of the pressure on family and friends to bridge the gap between services and need." Mr Ostrowski emphasised that Homeshare did not take the place of existing or future support workers and care services, however it is a fresh way of bringing together people with complementary needs. For many of the program's clients, the biggest bonus is not so much the chores that the homesharer can help with, but the sense of security and safety that comes with having someone else in the house, particularly overnight. All participants undergo thorough security checks and sign an agreement outlining their obligations, which usu- ally include about 10 hours of household duties per week. Homeshare coordinators provide ongoing monitoring to ensure the arrangement remains mutually beneficial. "It was Olympia who pushed us to inform other elders in your community about the home-sharing program, which helped her connect and enjoy a better quality of life," Rachael Guthridge, Media and Communications Coordinator tells Neos Kosmos. "We go lots of places together, and it's nice to take care of someone again," Olympia says. "I'm very happy; I feel secure here." *The Homeshare program delivered by Care Connect in partnership with Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre Inc is supported by funding from the Commonwealth and Victorian Government under the HACC program. For more information go to www.careconnect.org.au or phone 1800 116 166. A Greek migrant, 48, found a new purpose in life by hosting an 86-year-old Aussie widow struggling to meet her daily expenses. Taking the road less travelled Home-schooled teenager visits 23 counties in three years Réka Kaponay is a 13-yearold Melbourne girl who left behind the ordinary life at the age of ten to become a world traveller. She was recently featured in the Greek media during her stay in Rhodes, where she enjoyed long walks by the beach-side. In less than three years, Réka has visited 23 countries, and has become fluent in Hungarian and Spanish. "So far every single country I've been to has given me a positive experience," Réka writes on her blog. Her idea of school goes far beyond walls and desks as she learns about world history, law, literature and culture first hand. "If I would have to put a name to this, I would say that I like to think of ourselves as life learners, everyday, activating knowledge within us from the school of the world and all the living things surrounding us," she continues. The Kaponay family made the decision to sell their belongings and travel the world after a family vacation in California turned into a trip across the country and South America. Réka and her twin brother Lalika, began to learn how to live only on what they needed at the age of ten, when their parents George and Bobi started operating a non-profit called EnergeticXChange, which connects people who want to exchange and share belongings. “We have traveled to 23 countries through six continents and the journey continues. In fact, in some ways, it feels like it just started,” Kaponey wrote whilst enjoying the Greek sun. PHOTO: DREAMTIME TRAVELER BLOG. Réka started her own travel and photography blog which has gained her thousands of followers. She is currently living in Spain, working on her first full-length adventure novel, Dawn of The Guardian. Although she still considers Australia home, she can't see her adventure ending any time soon. "I'd like to return to Australia before I'm 20 but then again, I can't really see myself permanently settling in one spot," she said. "I'm very blessed, fortunate and I certainly don't take this lifestyle for granted, but I don't think I can go back again I can't really see my- to traditional schooling and lifestyle that I once had. *To find out more about Réka and her travels visit www.dreamtimetraveler. com Reka Kaponay, 13, pic- tured here in Rhodes. PHOTO: DREAMTIME TRAVELER BLOG.
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