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‘The House of Canada and the Americas’ Launch

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Athens-based NGO “The Smile of the Child”, a leader in child care and protection in Greece, today launched its Canadian campaign to raise funds for the establishment of the House of Canada andthe Americas(HOCATA).

HOCATA will be located in a former mansion donated to the NGOon the outskirts of the capital of the Greek island of Lesvos, Mytilini. Once renovated, “The Smile of the Child” expects to house upwards of 25 children in a safe, secure and loving environment.

Work will begin later this summer with initial donations coming from Canada, including from the Greek Ladies Philoptochos Society of Ottawa and an important contribution from Robert Peck, Philhellene, and former Ambassador of Canada to the Hellenic Republic (2011-2015), in keeping with the wishes of a deceased family member, the late Hélène M. Cooperof Montréal.

To recognize this Canadian generosity and leadership,“The Smile of the Child” decided to name this new facility the House of Canada and the Americas. Efforts will also be undertaken to reach out to potential donors in the United States and the Americas.

The project has set an initial objective (CAD) $140,000 to cover the basic repairs and renovations while the eventual operating cost is expected to be in the order of (CAD) $700,000. A number of fund-raising initiatives is expected tomobilize much needed support. The Hellenic Community of Ottawa as part of the annual “Greek Fest” August 11th to 21st will donate proceeds from a “Family Day” children’s face-painting activity.

MIKE FM 105.1 supports this Canadian fund-raising efforts. “The Smile of the Child” furthermore acknowledges the past and current assistance of Montréal’s “Magic Mission” which is dedicated to humanitarian causes in Greece. Algerian-Canadian singer Lynda Thalie of Montréal, once a refugee herself, recently visited refugee camps in Greece with cameraman Jeff Malo and produced a moving video vignette.

HOCATA will target children vulnerable to exploitation, especially unaccompanied refugee minors, who are living behind barbed wire or in make shift shelters on the island. These children are innocent victims of the refugee crisis who find themselves in very dire circumstances, often lacking adequate shelter, food and health care.

In a later phase, HOCATA is destined to become part of “The Smile of the Child” network of homes in Greece which are well-known for their support to children whose lives have been scarred by abuse, mistreatment or other traumatic experiences.

All contributions to the HOCATA project will make a difference. Donations may be made on-line to “The Smile of the Child” by credit card or by direct deposit to special Canadian dollar account: www.hamogelo.gr/46.2/Support-us

About The Smile of the Child:

Founded in 1996, “The Smile of the Child” is widely known in Greece and beyond for running eleven homes, where in total more than 800 children have been given a safe-haven, for its search and rescue actions for missing children as the national operator of Amber Alert, and for its widespread health and social services for children in need.

In the first half of 2016 “The Smile of the Child” has made a difference for more than 52,000 children in Greece. “The Smile of the Child” is recognized for both its transparency and low overhead costs due in large part to Smile’s network of 2.700 active volunteers and sponsors in Greece.

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