Greece’s Father Antonios, who runs Ark of the World (Kivotos tou Kosmou) a charity that helps homeless and neglected children has been awarded the annual European Citizens’ Prize for 2018.
The ceremony took place in the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday and also awarded Greek NGOs "HOPEgenesis" and "Wind of Renewal"
The annual awards began in 2008 by the European Parliament to honour citizens, groups, unions or organisations that have shown great dedication to promoting better understanding and closer integration between the citizens of the EU member-states.
"Ark of the World" the initiative of Father Antonios, helps to care and protect mothers and children who are in need, the NGO "HOPEgenesis" deals with the integration of Greece and the Social Cooperative Society and "Wind of Renewal" is active in the field of support and integration of particularly vulnerable refugees in society.
The three NGOs were awarded respectively after they were nominated by SYRIZA, EP, and Vice-President Dimitris Papadimoulis, MEP Elisa Wozenberg, and Mt Potamio, Miltiadis Kyrkos as the representatives for Greece.
For the year 2018, a total of 50 prizes were awarded to agencies and citizens in 26 EU Member States.
Father Anthony Papanikolaou served as a priest in Agios Georgios Akadimia Platonos, Kolonos. He began his priestly action in 1998 in one of the most poverty-stricken areas in Kolonos in Athens.
The area is also one of the most dangerous in Athens because many gangs are active and drug trafficking takes here.
Father Antonios became very disturbed after watching children every day sitting in the town square instead of being at school, as their families were destitute.
Gradually he approached them to start playing basketball and slowly they began to see his acceptance and spoke to them about their worries, their daily lives and challenged and found ways to try and help them.
Over time Father Antonios gained their trust, and the children's lives began changing for the better.
Father's wife Stamatia Georgandi, has also been very supportive and together they have turned their small organisation into a very important initiative, which has gained recognition.
Father Antonios helps both local Greeks and migrant children and mothers who are in need and regardless of religion, Father Antonios is there to help all those who are willing to accept his support.