“I am a class to myself,” Verena Fink says as she passes her hand through a basil bush. Here, in the center of Thessaloniki, the Munich native has found her goal. She has been a volunteer in the association since 2017. OikopolisIt is the second largest city in Greece Band aid for needy And the refugees with environmental education sum.
The Oikopolis Association is a point of contact for Greeks and fleeing people
Founded in the wake of national solidarity movements and the difficulties of the economic crisis in Greece after 2010, Oikopolis has since become a focal point for Greeks and refugees alike. We support people clothing donations or through foodthat we spend. Sometimes we cook or host Sustainability Marketswhere we sell second-hand items,” explains Fink, who helps her make a living seminars And the Additional Education Offers It happened in the social sector. Oikopolis’ work is linked to environmental education and sustainability claims.
With her work for Oikopolis, Verena Fink combines solidarity and the environment
“Solidarity And the environment is the ideals that make life for me. We as human beings only have a future if we connect them.”
Says the 49-year-old, who has lived in Thessaloniki since 2017. In 2015, the trained theater teacher supported refugees who arrived at Munich Central Station. When photos of the refugee camp in Idomeni, northern Greece, went around the world in 2016, I decided to go to Greece for two weeks. This is how I got in touch with Oikopolis and found their connection. A year later, Verena Fink moved to Greece. “I only had suitcases and a backpack,” she remembers, laughing.
The German Evangelical Church Thessaloniki was its first port. She lived in the community center for a while, and from there made contact with associations and initiatives that support fleeing people. “My faith has been an important fulcrum in my life for a long time,” says Verena Fink, who says she converted from Catholicism to Protestant Lutheranism at the age of 30 and was interested in the subject. Charity For them, they are inseparable symbiosis Link:
“However, charity is only a foundation, for me solidarity means living on that foundation.”
Communication and language are essential when working with Oikopolis
Oikopolis, in turn, sees itself as one religious And the politically neutral organization, where people from different backgrounds and worldviews work together. “this is independence very important to us. “She makes sure that no one can interfere with us, although sometimes it is a real financial burden,” says Verena Fink, the only German in the organisation.
“We work a lot with language here. People who need help need to be able to communicate,”
Says Fink, whose Greek has become as fluent as French and English. “But I don’t get rid of my German accent so easily,” she says, stressing that from the start it was important for her not only to live in Greece, but also to be able to communicate with the Greeks.
a need contact Not only do they have it, Fink says, but it’s also rooted in Greek nature. “This need has suffered greatly during the months of lockdown and pandemic,” says Fink, who also links it to a kind of solidarity crisis.
“We are finding that support for fleeing the country appears to be declining. This is partly because Greeks themselves are facing more and more problems, but also because of European and national policies.”
Support for those fleeing appears to be falling across Europe
Many Greeks felt that Europe and their government had left them hanging. “A lot of the support money from Brussels never got to where it was needed, and aside from supposed border security, we don’t notice much of the EU,” Fink says, describing her view.
But although the problems that Germans face are also increasing in Greece – global problems economic– And the energy crisis I arrived in the country a long time ago – returning to Germany is not an option for them. Urgently needed for her volunteer work, she discovered her love for the Greek way of life too much:
“I fit in here. I can be whatever I want to be here.”