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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 06 July 2019
NEWS 4 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 6 JULY 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Woman tracks down Cretan family who helped her grandfather stay alive during WWII thanks to Facebook post! Ahead of her holiday to Greece this summer, Emma Ebrahim had a 'crazy' idea. The Kiwi woman, currently living in Avondale Heights, wanted to try to track down the three people, or their descendants, who as kids had helped save her grandfather's life during the Battle of Crete when he was serving in the island. All she had was a Facebook post with an old black and white photo - and hope. Then, 48 hours later, what looked like finding a needle in a haystack became possible! Amongst an array of messages and comments under the post, there was one by a photo, I didn't know which part of Crete they were from, I didn't know anything about them apart from their first names and I got them." Her grandfather, Arthur Wright, a Christchurch farmer, was 22 when enlisted and sent off to serve in Crete during World War II. While there, he got captured twice but managed to escape. As a runaway prisoner, he was among a group of soldiers hiding in the mountains from Axis forces and during that time the help provided by two boys and a girl was crucial to their survival. Irene, Tasos and Nicolas would run a covert 'operation' at nighttime giving Growing up, this photo was on my granddad’s wall and I remember as a small girl just saying ‘who are these people?’ and he would say they helped feed me, they helped keep me alive. “ Maro, daughter of Nicolas Kalogeris, one of the two men pictured in the photo. "It's just amazing I just can't believe it happened like that. When Maro first PMed me saying that's my dad I thought someone was making fool of me [...] you never know what to expect on the internet," Ms Ebrahim told ABC Radio. "When she said yes this is my dad I just started shaking and thought 'how is this even possible'? 48 hours and I found this person just from food to the soldiers and possibly even provided them with shelter. As Ms Ebrahim points out, they did so by risking their lives. Eventually, Arthur was forced to surrender following a threatening announcement by the Commander at the island that any soldier found hiding would be treated as a spy. Upon his return to New Zealand, he never forgot the three Kalogeri siblings, pictured in the photo Ms Ebrahim posted on Facebook in a Irene, Tasos, Nicolas Kalogeri gave food to Emma’s grandfather, Arthur, a runaway prisoner of the Germans while he was hiding in the mountains with fellow soldiers. The photos were published on Facebook by Emma in a post shared around Australia and Greece until Nicolas’ daughter contacted her. bid to track them down, 74 years later. "Growing up, this photo was on my granddad's wall and I remember as a small girl just saying 'who are these people?' and he would say they helped feed me, they helped keep me alive. He didn't really go into too much detail because he didn't like to talk about the war," Ms Ebrahim explains. It was only in the recent years before his death in 2016 that Arthur shared more about the story with the family. Emma Ebrahim during her meeting with Tony Tsourdalakis, Board Member of The Cretan Federation of Australia and New Zealand. Ms Ebrahim is invited to attend an event in October on the occasion of the 78th anniversary of the Battle of Crete to talk about her grandfather’s story and her imminent meeting with the Kalogeri family in Greece. Ms Ebrahim says she has been thinking of going to Greece for a few years now and following her grandfather's passing she felt the urge to share the picture online in a bid to find his rescuers or their family members. Posting a call for help along with a series of photos - including the one of the three Kalogeri siblings - on the group's 'Greeks in Melbourne' Facebook page, had a cascading effect, with people contacting her, sharing her call-out and and promoting it across the local media in Crete, until Nicolas' daughter got back to her. Ms Ebrahim will be travelling to Crete in September with her family and her father - Arthur's son - who turned 70 this year. She will meet Nicolas, now 89, with his two daughters, Lila and Maro, as well as Taso's daughter, Rina. She has also been invited by The Cretan Federation of Australia and New Zealand to attend commemorative events in October on the occasion of the 78th anniversary of the Battle of Crete to talk about her grandfather's story and her imminent meeting with members of the Kalogeri family in Greece. A copy of the written announcement circulated at the island, which led Arthur to surrender to the Axis forces Arthur at the front during an RSL reunion march in New Zealand The back of the photo featuring Irene, Tasos and Nicolas, with their personal note to Emma’s grandfather, Arthur. Record food donations from farmers’ market program The Hellenic Initiative (THI) Australia announced it will be supporting the successful Boroume Farmers' Market Program for a third year, providing a $71,000 grant to continue the expansion of the dynamic food saving program to help more people in need. With the support of THI Australia, Boroume was able to almost double the amount of fresh produce collected from weekly neighbourhood farmers markets in Athens and Thessaloniki - from 73,500 kg in 2017 to 128,000 kg in 2018. Last month, more than 140 Boroume volunteers collected a record 22,000 kg of fresh fruit and vegetables - the largest amount collected in any month since the program began. "The Hellenic Initiative Australia is proud to be supporting the significant growth of the Boroume Farmers Market Program in Athens and its increasing presence in Thessaloniki," said THI Australia President, Nicholas Pappas AM. "The Farmers' Market Program is a dynamic, innovative and impactful food saving program, bringing together farmers, charities and volunteers to help save food and donate it to thousands of people in need”. In 2018, the Farmers Market Program supported 32 charities in Athens and Thessaloniki, providing fresh food for church and municipal soup kitchens, refugee shelters and hospices for people with disabilities. Boroume founding member, Alexander Theodoridis, welcomed the continued support from THI Australia. "We are deeply thankful and honored by the partnership with THI Australia, which has allowed us to develop and grow a unique saving food program which has never been attempted before in Greece," Mr Theodoridis said. "The impact of this program is immediate and tangible and we are proud to have created something incredibly valuable in economic, social and environmental terms. "There are still many people facing food insecurity in this country and the farmers' market program is bringing communities together to support each other while also reducing food waste". Six markets joined the program in Athens in 2018 and - with the addition this week of the Moschato market launched this week - Boroume volunteer teams are now collecting at 21 markets in Athens and six in Thessaloniki. Another seven markets are expected to come on board over the next 12 months, including two in Thessaloniki. THI Australia has provided a total of $178,000 in grants to cover the operation of the Farmers' Market Program. Since the program's inception in October 2015, Boroume has saved and offered more than 225,000 kg of fresh produce from markets for donation to local charities, equating to approximately 900,000 food portions. The program has been implemented with the help of more than 800 volunteers, including more than 120 Australians who have joined Boroume teams at farmers' markets in Athens and Thessaloniki under THI Australia's Volunteering Program.
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