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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 8 August 2015
GREECE 24 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 8 AUGUST 2015 Vatika fire victims get Aussie help Crowdfunding project launched to help burnt-out residents NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU On 17 July, one of the most catastrophic fires Greece has ever seen broke out in Vatika, Laconia. Within six hours, three villages were up in flames. By the end of the third day, it left behind 62,000 acres of land burnt to the ground. The Peloponnesians lost 115,000 olive trees, the famous Laconian vineyards and 51 houses. Apart from the livestock lost, thousands of native wildlife populations, including endangered species were caught by the firestorm. Tina Georgoudis, a young Greek Australian living in Athens, who visited the southern Peloponnese area recently, has begun an online crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to help people affected. "Vatika, the place I love more than anything in the world, is ruined. I want to help but it is very difficult to raise funds," says Tina. With municipalities across Greece also facing severe limits on what they are able to do to help, due to the economic crisis, after assessing the damage the Municipality of Monemvasia judged that compensation to local residents would be limited to a one-off payment of €586 per person. Meanwhile, the cashstrapped Greek government is unlikely to be able to offer any assistance as it deals with the increased creditors' demands over the the country's third bailout deal. "It's important to make clear that the losses and the costs of the damages are far Tina George (Georgoudis), founder of the Indiegogo campaign. more than that, as people lost herds, crops, homes and businesses," adds Tina. "People lost literally everything. In Vatika, the main income comes from olive oil production, yet now that almost all olive groves are burnt, people are dealing with poverty," she says, worried that with winter coming, more problems will arise. In the area, which is known for heavy rainfall, floods are expected to cause further damage. With capital controls still in place, Indiegogo's use of PayPal will ensure those affected can receive the cash without problems. After 18 days the campaign has raised more than €2,400, with most of the donations between €30 and €100. The campaign has set a target of €15,000. All funds will be passed on to the Vatika fire victims. For donations please head to the Indiegogo website. For more information on the damage go to 'SupportVatika' on Facebook. DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM A dog called Roula Penny Marathon raises plight of animal abuse NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU Roula was found late last year in Kalamata, hanging from a tree by a fish hook through the side of her nose. She was left there for three days, suspended in the air, struggling to defy gravity. "What happened to Roula was senseless cruelty; one of the worst things I have ever seen," says Andreas Donnelly, her rescuer and a member of Filozoikos Omilos Kalamatas, an animal welfare charity that looks after stray animals in the wider area. "I've been involved in animal welfare in the region for 10 years and during this time, I've seen horrific things done to animals." Roula's physical wounds have healed but the psychological scars are still there. Andreas, who formally adopted her, is trying to change that. On Sunday 12 July, Roula and some of her stray friends crossed the finish line of the Penny Marathon, a 42km course for runners and cyclists that aims to raise awareness of animal welfare issues in Greece, Australia and beyond. It was the first time the marathon was held in the town of Kalamata and over 90 people showed their support by hitting the streets on what was the hottest day of summer. Ellie Prodromou, one of the founding members of the Penny Marathon, is certain that there are hundreds of Roulas out there whose stories we will never get to know. "There are many strays who died a miserable death and who never received any justice," Prodromou says. Katerina Pesonis, who managed the event in Kalamata, was thrilled with the result and turnout as both communities came together to show that these are issues taken seriously. "The people want change and we all have a role to play," Personis says. "Our message is respect, love, nurture, spay, don't abandon and break the silence." Laws for animal abuse violations exist in Greece and carry a heavy sentence, including fines of up to 30,000 euros. For Andreas, however, the problem lies in the apathy with which the community and the authorities treat animal abuse and, as a result, the lack of enforcement of the law. "We tried to uncover who was responsible for doing this to Roula but knew getting justice was a lost cause," he says. "This is an area that we need to focus on, to convince Greeks that abuse is a crime and that abusers will be punished." Lucky Roula with owner Andreas Donnelly. The Penny Marathon in Athens. The Penny Marathon 2015 was held in four cities this year, including Athens and Sydney, at which over 300 people participated. Neos Kosmos has been a sponsor since the inaugural marathon in 2012. In Australia, the Penny Marathon is also sponsored by AVIS, Lea's World Travel and KAE International Euromovers. Bids made for hydrocarbon permits CHRYSSA LIAGGOU Greece's energy ministry had received three bids for the concession of licences for the surveying and utilisation of hydrocarbons in 20 areas in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete, although capital controls do not allow for the publication of the companies' names and the specific areas in question. Smoke billows over the village of Neapoli in the Laconia region. PHOTO: VASSILIS KONSTANTOPOULOS/REUTERS. Bids must reportedly remain sealed because investors are unable to submit the necessary letters of guarantee (amounting to €100,000 per bid), as the tender rules dictated that those letters should be issued by Greek banks or for- eign banks with a branch in Athens. To overcome this, the ministry ruled to open offers 10 working days after the banks opened. With three bids submitted under the interim arrangements, a ministry spokesperson said: "This number can be considered as a positive step in the country's effort to utilise its undersea wealth." Sources reported a bid from Hellenic Petroleum in cooperation with a major multinational, possibly France's Total and/or Italy's Edison. It is possible the same consortium submitted all three bids. Source: Kathimerini Greece is receiving bids for the further development of its oil and gas resources.
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