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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 25 August 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 25 AUGUST 2018 23 NEWS Young Greek Italian becomes Melbourne’s Junior Lord Mayor Chloe Amalfi, 12, says empty buildings should accomodate the homeless NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU Thomas Nianiakos and his three daughters in 2015, when they first came to Australia. But what about his first family? I asked him what has changed in the last five years, knowing that he recently got married for the second time, to Lydia, a teacher of Italian heritage. "You can never replace your loved one. I do not want to do that either. "When I met Lydia, I told her that I am not alone; I have three kids that I have to take care of. As a teacher who interacts with kids daily, she told me she had no problem with children. And the rest is history". Thomas and Lydia have recently taken part in the World's Greatest Shave, a long-running fundraising initiative by the Leukemia Foundation, where people of all ages shave, colour or wax their hair, cut pony tails, banish beards, and trim top knots for charity. "We did it to help Leukemia going, because you have patients to look after, you're very focused on the job at hand." During our interview, Zahos reveals that at that time she even sent a text message to her mum saying goodbye, thinking she might never see her again. "When amidst a disaster caused by a natural force, you've got no control over [the situation]. At that moment, when the earthquake was happening, I was hanging onto the car, I was with with a colleague and we were just screaming because it took us by surprise," she adds, pointing out the lack of any escape route due to the mountain's narrow road infrastructure and a landslide ahead. One of the questions Insight's host Jenny Brockie asked Zahos was why she's attracted to dangerous work. "It's a tough question to an- swer,” she says. "With the dangerous side of things I feel that, when someone needs me, I'll be there to help; I don't really look at the danger around me." She also talked about the research, but also as a tribute to Persephone." Just before we finished our longer than scheduled discussion, I asked Thomas, "All good now?" "All good, God bless,” he answers. I do not like clichés but I honestly think that it was the first time I heard someone saying that and meaning it. A grateful person that counts his blessings every day. What about the rest of his social circle; how did they react to the new start of Thomas? "All of us, we went to Greece a few months ago where we met also Persephone's mum. She was very welcoming and understood that our new life in Australia is much better than what would have been in Greece. I invited her to come here and see with her own eyes how I and the children develop," he says. feeling of isolation she experiences upon returning from a humanitarian response. Despite having friends and family by her side, Zahos attributes this to not having her team members around, the only ones who can truly understand what she's seen and been through as the same applies to them. Considering that she lost her father six years ago, Zahos admits it is not easy for her mother, to soothe her fears every time she chooses to volunteer in emergency response, especially in conflict environments. But she says her family has had to come to terms with it and respect her decision to keep offering her skills where needed. "A sense of purpose is what keeps me going," she says. "And something I've learnt over the years is that when a natural disaster strikes, the entire world sends out help [...] but when it's because of war or conflict, things are different, because there's politics involved and that is when the volunteers' contribution is most needed." Chloe Amalfi, a 12-year-old Australian student of Greek and Italian heritage has just become the city's Junior Lord Mayor, a title that she will carry for the next 12 months. She is the winner of the 2018 Melbourne Day Committee competition that was finalised on Monday after the judges deliberated and unanimously decided Miss Amalfi was the strongest candidate out of the seven finalists. "I'm feeling very excited and kind of overwhelmed but really looking forward to the 12 months ahead to my duties," Chloe tells Neos Kosmos. "I will actually be seeing Lord Mayor Sally Capp next Thursday 30 August - which is Melbourne Day - and I'll be raising the flag with her at Enterprise Park, and the best part is my class gets to come as well!" Even though the committee unanimously announced her as the winner, Chloe never thought she would win. "To be honest, I personally never thought I'd win this as the other nominees were so strong," she admits, adding that it was perhaps an unexpected question and the topics she focused on that set her apart and put her across the line. "They were asking questions that they didn't necessarily put down in your interview sheet or the application and people said I did a really good job of that. Most candidates talked on the same topic, gave similar answers, reciting pollution, recycling, exercise. I talked more about homelessness, infrastructure projects, security and cleanliness." Chloe's mother, Alex Amalfi told Neos Kosmos that her daughter did not advise them before putting herself forward in the competition after it was introduced to her class by the teacher. "I didn't even know about it," Alex says. "I only found out after she was selected. She did her own research, looked up all those issues. She took her own initiative there with her teacher, came home and told us she put herself forward. She was pretty relaxed with everything." Indeed, even though the teachers at Genazzano FCJ College in Kew where Chloe studies presented the competition to the entire class, she was the only one in her midst that took on the challenge. "I found the questions important and I was thinking about the future and all the things that could be done to make this beautiful city better," she mused changing her tone to stress Melbourne's increasing homeless population. "It's really sad and we definitely need to fix it quick because two out of five homeless people are under the age of 25. I gave some answers on how I think we could help them: (...) provide more homeless shelters, assist them to get support from offering basic supplies to longterm solutions," she says. "Making homeless people feel more secure, safe and included into the Melburnian community is imperative, something we need to work on with the council and engage the entire city. "My main idea was to utilise vacant buildings as temporary shelters." Staying true to the Mel- bourne Day Committee core values, Chloe understands that all Melburnians need to help correct the record about the founding of Melbourne and celebrate its anniversaries. "Melbourne Day is all about celebrating Melbourne and bringing people and communities together to promote what our city has to offer," she says. "That's what I feel this junior role is here to represent and support. "All the candidates touched on how important multiculturalism is - perhaps even more than I did, and personally, I do feel that without all the cultures, Melbourne just wouldn't be Melbourne." The young Australian, not only appreciates her mixed heritage, but she tries to stay as connected to it as possible. "I am half Greek, half Italian and I am very connected to both my backgrounds. Recently we went to Greece. My grandparents from my mother's side are from Lefkada and I've visited twice. I'm proud of both my identities, but I find it hard to speak Greek or Italian most of the time." While being Junior Lord Mayor for the year is high on the list of things Chloe is looking forward to, being able to simply enjoy the rest of her childhood comes first. "I just want to go to school, spend time with my family, with my friends ... you know, being a child and being normal!" Even though outside of school Chloe's schedule is quite hectic as she engages in quite a few extracurricular activities, she promises to stay on top of her duties as Melbourne city's junior boss. "I do dance twice a week; hip hop, jazz and contemporary, and on Saturdays I play netball and do sports swimming during the week, but I know I can manage being Junior Lord Mayor, too!" "She's always been a very confident and passionate child and hopefully in the future she'll get to make more of a difference towards what she believes in," Chloe's mum, Alex says. "Peter Hitchener said to me on Monday that she just shines. She's such a natural performer; I couldn't be more proud." Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp and Junior Lord Mayor Chloe Amalfi.
18 August 2018
01 September 2018