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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 12 January 2019
6 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 12 JANUARY 2019 NEWS The Greek refugee village at Bonegilla The Church of St Athanasios today. PHOTO: A. TSAKONAS PROF ANOMA PIERIS In July 2018, on the behest of Anastasios [Tasos] Kolokotronis, my partner Athanasios and I visited Nea Magnisia, a village 11 kilometres outside Thessaloniki. There, we met with Tasos' relatives, walked in a church procession and accepted an award from the town council on his behalf. The award recognised Tasos' role in preserving Nea Magnisia's history, through stories and models that are on exhibit at the Bonegilla Migrant Experience (BME) national heritage site. Tasos migrated to Australia in 1954. He has since lived in Melbourne with his wife Christina Tzega and three generations after him. Nea Magnisia is his natal Tasos Kolokotronis at home in Strathmore with his models, 2013. PHOTO: A. PIERIS Model of the former church of St Athanasios by T. Kolokotronis. PHOTO: A. PIERIS Anastasios Kolokotronis awarded for preserving Nea Magnisia’s history through stories and models being exhibited at the Bonegilla Migrant Experience national heritage site village, and the account of its history, related in the book of his life, is embedded in his autobiography. Tasos' miniatures offer a detailed record of a village built to accommodate refugees following the 1923 forced population exchange between Turkey and Greece. The church, council building, school, and several individual houses have been recreated from memory with remarkable attention to house form, fenestrations, roof tiles and fencing. The buildings are populated with figures and animals, many using implements and vehicles of that era. More im- portantly, the exhibit demonstrates how basic houses provided to over one million refugees were adapted and emplaced. Although the collection is nostalgic, and Nea Magnisia has long since transformed into a bustling town of multistorey apartment buildings, it provides evidence of government hospitality to culturally different, Turkish-speaking refugees in a time of social hostility and poverty. Tasos came to Australia with 600 others on the ship Cyrenia and spent a hot, flyridden month at Greta camp, which he escaped at first opportunity. He found his way to Melbourne and worked as a motor mechanic at Queens Bridge Motors, and later at the Commonwealth Aircraft Company and Ansett Airlines. Upon his retirement, he returned to his memories. Magnisia stands for Manisa in Anatolia, Turkey. The 400 refugee families who settled in the village came from Muradiye and Hamidiye in Manisa and from Bursa. Group identities were kept intact and named after natal homelands inserting hundreds of sites in Ottoman Asia Minor into the geographic imagination of Greece. Many of them have the prefix 'nea' (new). The Refugee Settlement Commission (RSC) administered the settlement process funded by the League of Nations. In addition to the vacated former Muslim properties, some 509 new agrarian colonies were created for 180,000 people on 359,000 hectares of land. Some 75 of these were in Thessaloniki's immediate vicinity, while more than 50 new colonies were built around the city. This was Greece's first experiment with social housing. The Macedonia Resettlement Directorate commissioned SommerfeldDehatege company (DHTG) to build 10,000 dwellings. A further 15,000 were built by local companies. At the BME site, Nea Magnisia appears as a nostalgic reconstruction by a former Greek migrant. In fact, they are unsure how long they can maintain the exhibit given the poor climate controls within the facility and its lack of direct relevance for Bonegilla's heritage. They lack the funds needed to create the display cases essential for preserving the miniatures. This is unfortunate because Nea Magnisia exemplifies a historical example of refugee integration that Australia might well emulate. Its story is especially pertinent to Bonegilla, a similar historical entry point. *Anoma Pieris is a Professor in Architecture at the University of Melbourne's School of Design. Fertility specialist Dr Pantos awarded for strengthening ties between Greece and Australia The Greek Community of Melbourne has recognised Dr Konstantinos Pantos for furthering intellectual and trade exchange between the two countries World-renowned fertility specialist Dr Konstantinos Pantos has been recognised by the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) for his impressive work. GCM President Bill Papastergiadis and President of the Hellenic Medical Society of Australia (HMSA) Associate Professor Marinis Pirpiris awarded the doctor a commendation for his efforts in furthering the intellectual and trade exchange between Greece and Australia. Dr Pantos commenced his schooling in Melbourne and returned to Greece to graduate in Medicine from the University of Athens. He then returned to Melbourne to study fertility medicine at the Royal Women's Hospital before returning to Greece, where he became one of the first in the world to offer blastocyst culture and blastocyst transfer, and helped pioneer blastocyst biopsy and preimplantation genetics. The founder and scientific director of Genesis Athens Clinic, one of Europe's largest providers of fertility services, Dr Pantos has made parenthood a reality for many couples from all around the world, including many Greek Australians. He has established IVF units in different regions of Greece including Volos, Ioannina and Patra, and more recently established a unit in Romania. A member of various European Society randomised trials, Dr Pantos is extensively published and has been recognised with the inclusion of his pioneering work in the IVF's history of milestones. Meanwhile, more recently he has also found time to work with the Greek Government together with Dr George Patoulis to boost Greece's medical tourism sector highlighting the country's specialised doctors and state of the art medical facilities. The success of the strategy was evident in the wealth of Greek specialists who visited Melbourne for the Health Tourism in Greece Conference hosted by the GCM in 2017. Dr Pantos continues to work towards strengthening the ties and networks between Australia and Greece, having recently developed an e-learning educational program for medical graduates and scien- tists, which he is in the process of accrediting with various health authorities. Aside from being an opportunity to recognise Dr Pantos' work, the ceremony was also a chance to mark the commencement of two programs for further medical education in Greece. Mr Papastergiadis and Assoc. Prof. Pirpiris supported the development of undergraduate medical electives in Greece, which would see medical students from Australia spending time with renowned Greek specialists in both the public and private domains. Assoc. Prof. Pirpiris also proposed a postgraduate travelling fellowship program, where Australia's leading young medical specialists as well as those from the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada spend a period of time travelling through Greece's institutions of medical learning, while sharing DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Dr Pantos being awarded by GCM President Bill Papastergiadis and Associate Professor Marinis Pirpiris. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED and discussing their research, thereby facilitating the formation of life-long friendships and networks. "The Greek Community of Melbourne is proud to work with Dr Pantos to strengthen the ties between Greece and Australia," said Mr Papastergiadis. "These initiatives are an important part of demonstrating 'real relationships' between the two countries. Hopefully this initiative is only the first part of a larger program." The GCM President also highlighted the important role the initiative plays directly against the brain drain that Greece has experienced in recent times. "Over 4,000 Greek doctors have left Greece to work abroad. Developing programs that enhance medical functions within Greece will help stem this exodus," he said.
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