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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 5 March 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 5 MARCH 2016 23 OPINION OPINION DR JOHN VASILAKAKOS The miracle of a ‘big heart’ - the inspiring story behind Doujon’s Heart The book Doujon’s Heart (Allen & Unwin 2015), by Greg Callaghan and Ian Cuthbertson, is about the murder of 20-year old Doujon Zammit in Mykonos, Greece, in July 2008. Doujon lost his life when bashed to death by bouncers of a nightclub on the cosmopolitan Greek island due to an alleged but unproven theft of a woman's handbag by the victim. But what shocked public opinion worldwide - especially in Australia and Greece - was the decision taken by the grief-stricken parents of the victim (Oliver and Rosemarie) to donate their son's organs, and indeed to Greek recipients - thus fulfilling Doujon's wish to be an organ donor. The paradox in this thriller-like story is the fact that the day Doujon was bashed to death, the doctors of the Greek Australian journalist Kosta Gribilas (who was the lucky recipient of Doujon's heart) announced to him in hospital that due to his vi- rus-induced heart failure, he had only two weeks to live if, in the meantime, no suitable donor were found. Doomed by the doctors' prognosis, Kosta had been following all the unfolding events relating to the murder of the young Australian tourist, and from his hospital bed was dumbfounded to hear of the heartbreaking announcement of the victim's distraught father that his family had decided to donate their son's organs to Greek patients who needed them urgently. However, not in his wildest dreams did Kosta imagine that the recipient of Doujon's heart would be none other than himself, especially as on 2 August, having said goodbye for the last time (as he thought) to his beloved partner, his family and friends, he entered the surgery from which he doubted he would come out alive. And yet the next day, the critically ill Greek Australian woke from the anaesthetic exhausted from the lengthy operation, but feeling reborn with a new OPINION CHRISTOS ILIOPOULOS Greek passport among most valuable in the world The Visa Restrictions Index (Business Insider, UK, 29 Feb. 2016) ‘evaluates’ the strength of passports of most countries in the world. The main criterion is in how many countries the holder of a certain passport can enter without having to issue a specific visa. According to this survey, the more visa-free access you have in countries all over the world, the more valuable your passport is. The recently issued Hen- ley & Partners' Visa Restrictions Index concludes that the strongest passport is the German one, since it gives access to 177 countries without the need of a visa for its holder. The Greek passport ranks in seventh spot, along with that of New Zealand, as it gives visa-free access to 171 countries. Those born outside Greece to at least one Greek-born parent or grandparent can obtain a Greek passport, provided certain documents are filed and processed by the Greek administration. If all birth and marriage certificates are in good order, there is no need for the applicant to speak Greek. The application is filed either at the Consulate of Greece at the country of residence of the applicant, or directly in Greece, with a proxy, or a combination of the above. To apply and obtain your Greek passport, which is a European Union (EU) passport and allows you free entry, residence, work and status equal to local citizens in every EU member state, you have to first locate the birth certificate (birth record is not enough) of your parent or grandparent, who was born in Greece. Then, you must obtain the marriage certificate of that person, and then the birth of the next in line ancestor, until we reach your birth certificate. If you have only one Greek grandparent, and you are now above 18 years old, the type of marriage of your grandparents is of significance. If you have only a Greek-born grandfather, you must obtain a religious marriage certificate of your grandparents. If, on the other hand, you only have a Greek-born grandmother, you must have a civil (not religious) marriage certificate of your grandparents. If you have only one Greek-born parent, the type of marriage of your parents (civil or religious) will not be an obstacle to your Greek citizenship. The names of each ancestor must be consistent from one public document to the other. If a person is named Stathopoulos in his Greek birth certificate, being named Stathes Have Your Say LAST WEEK’S QUESTION: Do you think vaccinations against measles and other viruses should be made mandatory? 71% YES 29% NO THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: Do you think Tony Abbott is on the road to becoming the new Kevin Rudd, by undermining the Prime Minister? Yes/No Vote online now. Go to neoskosmos.com Published by Ethnic Publications Pty Ltd (ABN: 13005 255 087) of 169 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122. Printed by Rural Press Printing, Ballarat. NEOS KOSMOS Published since 1957 Contacts Reception Phone: (03) 9482 4433 Fax: (03) 9482 2962 Email: email@example.com Phone: (03) 9482 4433 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.neoskosmos.com Advertising letters Email: email@example.com NEOS KOSMOS - English Publisher: No. 5701 Address: Level 1, 169 Burwood Road, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122 Mail: PO Box 6068 Hawthorn West, Victoria 3122 Subscriptions Phone: (03) 9482 4433 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: (03) 9482 2962 Letters should not be more than 200 words and they must indicate your full name, address and a day time telephone number for verification. By submitting your letter to us for publication you agree that we may edit the letter for legal, space or other reasons and may, after the publication in the paper, republish it on the internet or in other media. Editor-in-chief: Sotiris Hatzimanolis Journalists: Christopher Gogos Nelly Skoufatoglou, Anastasia Tsirtsakis, Nikos Fotakis, Panos Apostolou, George Stogiannou Contributors: Dean Kalimniou, Jim Claven, Michael Sweet, Theodora Maios, George Hatzimanolis, Margarita Pournara, John Vasilikakos, Christos Iliopoulos Sub-editor: Angela Costanzo Graphic design: Peter Kelidis in his foreign marriage certificate may create the need to identify that Stathopoulos, who was born in Greece, and Stathes, who was married in the USA/Canada/Australia etc. is one and the same person. Males born outside of Greece to Greek parents or grandparents can obtain their Greek passport without hav- ing to serve in the Greek army, as long as they do not reside in Greece more than six months within the same calendar year, while they can reside the whole year long in any other EU country. * Christos Iliopoulos is at- torney at the Supreme Court of Greece, LL.M. heart - that of Doujon - now beating in his chest, securing him a new lease on life. This book (which is wrongly characterised as a 'memoir' on the back cover, as memoirs are usually written by the protagonists themselves) is not only interesting but also gripping. Not only because it is well written, but because it is characterised (rarely for a documentary) by suspense as if it were a novel - hence it is read almost non-stop. Frequently, of course, the two writers abuse their capacity as 'reporters' by behaving as omnipotent narrators, who are infiltrating (by poetic licence?) the (assumed) thoughts and feelings of the people involved in the story - as if they were fictional characters and not real people. But generally speaking, the careful reader tends to turn a blind eye (I'm inclined to believe) to such an obvious lapse thanks to the interesting story and gripping narration. This lapse could also be justified, to a degree, by the meticu- lous and thorough research which the writers have utilised to the maximum. Thus, as far as the research in this book is concerned, we have a documented and exemplary work, conducted in a professional manner, recording and narrating events, but also taking into consideration the crucial human factor. What is also noticeable is the writers' admirable knowledge of modern Greek culture, mentality, socio-economic reality, etc. This book is one of the most representative and perhaps best examples of the ‘GreekAustralian connection’, for the very simple reason that the tragic parents of the victim, instead of expressing hate towards the Greeks (given that it was Greeks who took away their son's life), drowned their unbearable pain and rose admirably to the occasion. They showed the grandeur of their soul by donating the organs of their beloved Doujon to Greeks who needed them desperately to stay alive. They learnt to love Greeks and Greece, despite the physical and psychological ordeal inflicted upon them by the notorious Greek bureaucracy and the heartless Greek legal system which deprived them of the justice they rightly deserved - as the court, according to the writers, imposed light sentences to those guilty of the crime. Furthermore, Doujon's family managed to forge close, heart-warming and indissoluble bonds with the Gribilas family due to this unimaginable tragedy, which in the end was sealed by an official koumbaria (Oliver became best man at Kosta's wedding and the Zammits christened the Gribilas' baby daughter). Through the various trials and tribulations of this adventure, the two families were united by fate and managed to bridge the 'tyranny of distance' between Australia and Greece by closing this huge geographic and psychological gap. Most importantly, the two families (especially Oliver Zammit and Kosta Gribilas) managed to unite their powers and give (individually and together) rare lessons of magnanimity and compassion, emerging as champions in the noble campaign for organ donation worldwide - but especially in Greece (which was so hopelessly lagging behind in this area) as well as in Australia. If anything, both men managed to prove that, even under the most adverse circumstances, love can prevail over evil, as so eloquently and succinctly is confirmed by Kosta Gribilas: “How can I ever forget Doujon, when every heartbeat reminds me how blessed I am?” * Dr John Vasilakakos is an acclaimed Melbourne academic and writer. His latest book is the English translation of his short story collection In Chloe's Secret Parts and Other Portents and Monsters, translated by Philip Grundy (Papyrus Publishing, 2015).
27 February 2016
12 March 2016