«Friends of Ikaria» AISBL – Activity report 2016/2017

A. General remarks

The aim of the non-profit association “Friends of Ikaria” (AISBL) is to support projects on Ikaria in the field of culture, social acitivities, education and environment. The association was officially registered and recognized by the Belgium authorities in October 2016. The founding members are: Mary Louzidou, Yannis Louzidis, Marco Marasco, Birgit Urban. In the first general assembly, which took place on 16.10.2016 they were elected for the follwing positions of the management board:
  • Mary Louzidou – President
  • Yannis Louzidis –
  • Marco Marasco – Treasurer
  • Birgit Urban –
In order to fulfill the goals of the association, the main activities in 2016 and 2017 were the organisation of the “Ikarian Days in Brussels” as well as the search and financing of adequate projects on Ikaria. We could only achieve this work with the support of the Ikarians. As our work is purely non political and should have an impact for all Ikarians, we were able to become a trustful partner for various projects on the island. We stick to our decision: “no money transfer, our support is only in kind”. So far, we receive a positive feed-back for our work from the Ikarians, who appreciate that our association is not only promoting the island in Brussels via the “Ikarian Days”, but also that our support is well organized and goes there, where needed. All this encourages us not only to continue our work with you, the members of our association, but also for Ikaria.

B. Development of the Membership:

As our association started “from the scratch” we had to invest some time for the acquisition of members. So far we were able to gather in total 26 members; we are happy about the fact, that also Ikarians are interested in our work and joined the association. But we have also members from other countries, such as Germany. – Members in Brussels: 16 – Members from Ikaria and Greece: 11 – Members from other countries: 2 – TOTAL: 29 (as of 19 November 2017) In order to continue our work, we need to intensify the acquisition of further members; an activity that will remain on our agenda for the future.

C. Activities in 2016

Besides the official registration of our association our activities focused on the following two subjects:

1. Donation of a used fire engine to the volunteer fire brigade of Agios Kirikos

The volunteer fire brigade in Agios Kirikos was in search of an additional fire engine in order to replace older equipment. Via friends we got to know about an offer of a used fire engine in the area of Potsdam/Berlin. We also found a volunteer driver from that area, who drove the car down to Venice in October 2016. Representatives of the volunteer fire brigaders from Agios Kirikos took over the car in Patras and drove it to Ikaria. The car arrived end of October 2016 on the island. Due to administrative procedures, the car is unfortunately not yet on the road, but we hope that this will happen soon. We financed this project with the income of the “Ikarian Panigyri” in 2015. Costs: 1,500 EUR for the car + 700 EUR transfer costs = total 2,200 EUR

2. Organisation of a “Fish-soup” to collect money for the transfer of the fire engine

Saturday, September 10th 2016, we organized a solidarity evening in Brussels benefiting the island of Ikaria. More specifically we contribute to the costs of the purchase and transport (from Germany) of a second hand vehicle of a fire engine towards Ikaria. We enjoyed the famous fish soup “psarosoupa” with friends and colleagues. The island suffers annual pest fires due to the great drought and strong winds … A vehicle of first intervention for the use of volunteer firefighters on the island is therefore more than necessary and can save lives. Income: 620 EUR

3. Organisation of the “Ikarian Days 2016”

The “Ikarian Days 2016” took place from 23– 27 November 2016. The programme was as follows:
  • 23 November – 24 November: “Ikarian recipes” at the Restaurant “Philema”
  • 25 November: Theater play “The little boat”
  • 26 November: Dance lesson – Ikarian Dances AND “Ikarian Panigyri”
  • 27 November: Film “Ludlow” AND music event “Ikarian Sunset”
In total around 400 people participated at the different events. Not only people from Brussels, but also Ikarians, who came explicetely for these events to Brussels, as well as friends of Ikaria from different countries, such as France, Spain and the Netherlands. We could only organize the programme with the help of a high number of volunteers. Income of the “Ikarian Days”: 19,660 EUR Expenses for the organisation of the “Ikarian Days”: – 11,946 EUR Surplus: 7,714 EUR

D. Activities in 2017

1. Preparatory work for the next “Ikarian Days”

In February 2017 we started already with the preparation of the “Ikarian Days 2017”, which should have taken place in November 2017. But during the following months it turned out that we could not rent the necessary rooms. Therefore we decided to postpone the “Ikarian Days” to March 2018. During the summer months we started already the preparatory work on Ikaria by getting into contact witht the corresponding musicians and suppliers of local products. We are happy that we are supported by a high number of Ikarians. Publicity for the “Ikarian Days” has already started. The contracts for renting the different rooms need to be finalized, but this should happen till the end of 2017.

2. Organisation of the first “Volunteer holidays” on Ikaria

Furthermore we started a new project: The “Volunteer holiday” on Ikaria, which took place in April 2017 (Easter). The idea behind: bringing friends of Ikaria and those, who are interested in the island, to Ikaria and to work together with the Ikarians on a project, that corresponds to the goals of our association. In this context the association of the village Faros offered us to help them to work on a mountain trail, that is connecting Faros with Perdiki. The work was to clean the path and to mark it. On Ikaria accommodation was offered at a lower price; the same goes for the car rental. As we could only finalize the idea of the “working holiday” at the beginning of 2017, it was a bit late for the promotion. Therefore only 2 people – one of our association, one person from Greece – were following our call. But on the spot Ikarians and other tourists helped to make the path. It was a good experience and we would like to continue this activity, because it does not only bring tourists to the island, but it also brings them into contact with the Ikarians.

3. Which projects did we finance with the money of the association?

In 2017 1. Supplies for families in need In 2017 the situation of the families in need did not increase. Therefore we decided to spent a majority of the money available on this subject. Every time, when we were travelling to Ikaria we bought the supplies at different supermarkets and gave them to different villages. In that way it was possible to cover the whole island and help out, where our support was necessary. But it has to be mentioned, that our activities are just accompanying the activities of the Ikarians. Costs of the project: 925.05 EUR 2. Supplies for school children in need at the beginning of the school year 2017/2018 The children in the families in need are badly touched by their situation. The situation becomes especially difficult at the beginning of the school year, when the different material is needed. Therefore we decided to invest money to support the children in need in the primary schools in Agios Kirikos. With the help of the teachers in the corresponding schools we identified a) the number of pupils and b) the material needed. In total we bought notebooks, pencils etc. for 40 children. Costs of the project: 1,600 EUR 3. Project “ Replace plastic bags” Nowadays plastic waste represents one of the major environmental problems in the world. It also touches Ikaria. Plastic bags have especially a bad impact to the sea and the sea-life the island is living from. With the help of cultural association “Ioannis Melas, an association that is – among others – organising cultural and educational workshops for children on Ikaria, we decided to start the project “replace plastic bags by cotton bags”. In this context we bought 450 cotton bags and the corresponding pencils and we will donate them to all the primary schools on Ikaria.The pupils will paint on the bags and will use them later for their shopping. Via this project the pupils will learn about environmental problems and sustainable behaviour. Costs of the project: 2 x 397.36 EUR = 794.72 EUR