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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 17 September 2016
NEWS 8 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Community shows generosity to the orphans of Sierra Leone Father Themis Adamopoulos is back Down Under on a mission to help the children orphaned by the Ebola virus, and he needs your help ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS Melbourne's Angliss Restaurant became the centre of philanthropy on Saturday night, with the first of two annual fundraising dinners for charity Paradise4Kids. Pleased with the turnout, event coordinator Jane Pallot told Neos Kosmosthe it was a "very successful" evening. "Just from the feedback, eve- ryone had such a good time," she said. "They all had the opportunity to see a video of the progress of the mission and where it's at, and Father Themi spoke and gave an over- view of what's been going on." More than 130 people attended to show their support for the charity founded by Father Themis Adamopoulos, and the children in Sierra Leone who were orphaned by the Ebola crisis of 2014. Now the priest is on a mission to build a series of children's orphanages and a school in Waterloo and Tower Hill. "It's not an institution-type model; it's going to be individual houses, which are protected, and a mother will be placed in each of the houses. So the children will grow up in sort of a normal family where they have a mother to look after them, and there'll be a school as well," Ms Pallot explained. While being entertained by the Byzantine chants of David the Psalmist choir, guests enjoyed a relaxed sit-down dinner in the beautiful CBD setting. "The quality of food was fantastic and the students served us, so it's the sort of venue that fits in with the ethos of our mission," she said. Funds were also raised through a silent auction and a table of small goodies for purchase, with everything from biscuits and jam to soaps, candles and CDs, all of which were generously donated to the cause. By minimising their overheads, with the entire mission run with volunteers and donations, organisers ensure that they are able to maximise the amount of money raised. "The auctions went very well. People come with open hearts; they know there'll be things for them to buy and they're very generous," said Ms Pallot. "You can see it on the night; even if it's a small crowd, we're always sur- prised by how much is raised by these events." But a stand-out on the night was the inspirational Stefanie Kalfas, who showcased her new menswear label HhaM, which will see all sales profits go towards the mission. "A doctor with a passion for charity, she also loves fashion and designing. So what she's done is designed ties and bow ties and is manufacturing them in Australia, with all profits from the sale going to Paradise4Kids," said Ms Pallot. "And it's all self-funded! She's amazing." For those who didn't have the chance to attend the fundraising dinner, the charity will host its second event tonight, Saturday 17 September. "It's a relaxed evening, where people can talk to Father Themi and he can really update everybody. It's worth coming along." The second intimate fundraising event for Paradise4Kids will be held on Saturday 17 September at the William Angliss Institute, 555 Latrobe Street, Melbourne at 6.30 pm. To book tickets, contact Jane Pallot on 0404 040 578 or visit www. paradise4kids.org/2016-melbourne-with-fr-themi Julia Banks’ call from the heart Melbourne Liberal MP Julia Banks delivered her maiden speech in parliament this week, and her poignant presentation is a rallying cry in the battle against bigotry and discrimination MICHAEL SWEET For anyone who witnessed it, from either side of politics, it was a remarkable performance. The Member for Chisholm marked her arrival formally on the stage of federal politics on Thursday, in a speech that drew on the defining moments of her life's journey to date − as a daughter, mother, businesswoman and politician. Honouring the sacrifices of her parents, she began by reflecting on her late father Sofoulis (Phillip) Lolatgis, and how, if he had still been alive on July 3 this year, the day of the federal election when she was elected (ending 18 years of Labor control of the Chisholm seat), she imagined he "would be doing a Greek dance". "Dad would have believed it a miracle, not because he didn't have immeasurable faith in me, rather because of how far and inconceivable this moment was from when he first landed in Australia in 1949 as a 15-year-old migrant boy from Greece, who couldn't speak a word of English and who fled post-war poverty without his parents," she said. Ms Banks described herself as the daughter of parents who were denied an education, "but who worked hard with optimism and faith, at two or sometimes three jobs, so they could hope to provide their children with schools of their choice". And it was her mother's story that she alluded to first, as she moved towards the two central themes of her speech: the fight for gender equality and the need for Austral- ia to re-embrace cultural diversity. As the former lawyer reflected on how her parents' experience and values shaped her outlook on life and political philosophy, Banks spoke of her mum (looking on from the public gallery) being denied an opportunity to enter the medical profession, unlike her brothers who became doctors, "not just because of her cultural upbringing, but also because of her gender". Primary school was where Banks first encountered racism personally. It was the archetypal experience: being called a "wog" and told that she should go back to where she came from. "I didn't know the meaning of the word … the first thing I did when I got home was look up the word in my brothers' dictionary," she told a hushed House of Representatives. "Incredulously I read the definition over and over: 'Someone of dark skin who is foreign to the land on which he lives.' I was hurt more by the tone of the word and less by its definition. I felt ugly, scared, and very alone." In light of Pauline Hanson's con- troversial speech in the Senate just days before, Banks' words are all the more telling and timely. Turning to a more recent example of being abused as a woman of Greek heritage, she recounted an episode during her time as a junior lawyer. Sent to a meeting at a Port Melbourne factory where union members were on strike, she recounted how she "shook with fear" because by the time the meeting had finished the unionists had found out her Greek heritage, and that she was part of 'management'. "As I tried to drive away … they threw themselves on the bonnet of my car, rocked it backwards and forwards and slammed their faces against the windows as they called me a 'wog' (that word again), as well as other obscenities that went to my gender." A different kind of prejudice, born of envy and smallmindedness, was repeated last year when campaigning. "My opponents referred to me in a spiteful and negative tone as a ‘corporate high-flying lawyer’, like it was a bad thing … someone who was 'out of touch', they declared, and whose objective in running for parliament was merely a 'grab for power'." Addressing the Speaker of the House, Banks said: "To work and to have career success does not mean that one does not love or care − be they a man or a woman". Speaking in Greek "to honour the people of Chisholm of any migrant heritage," Banks concluded by talking about the pride she felt in being given the opportunity to be the voice of her electorate, and vowing to "stand for love and respect, the dignity of work, and equal opportunity". Julia Banks' maiden speech was a revealing, highly personal autobiography, but also a statement of intent. Light on party political rhetoric, though determinedly advocating her belief in "Liberal values of individual enterprise", this was a heartfelt plea, asking the Australian parliament, and Australia itself, to reaffirm its commitment to overcome bigotry and prejudice in all their guises. Julia Banks presenting her speech in the House of Representatives. PHOTO: MICHAEL MASTERS/AUSPIC.
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