Emily Dickinson wrote “Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.”
For a parent, there is no worse tragedy than to lose their child, the very being that has come from and of them and symbolises the essence of hope, love and life itself. Poppy and Kostas Gribilas experienced such a devastation when they lost their beautiful baby daughter Konstantina to a heart condition, something they only discovered by chance when taking a random medical test.
“Konstantina was a very healthy baby, she was never sick, and because of Kosta’s health we were always having check ups,” says Poppy. “In losing Konstantina, we realised that we are nothing. Nothing is in our control, no matter what your status is or who you might know. As much as our soul bleeds every minute of everyday missing Konstantina’s smell, voice, laugh, cuddles and everything about her, the only way to survive is to believe and have faith that you will be reunited one day. Believe that heaven exists as a destination.”
The loss experienced by the pair, who last year gave birth to twins, acted as a powerful catalyst for them to take action to help other children whose health is at risk. Although based in Australia, the Gribilas’ have set up a fund to help children in need living throughout Greece.
“On October 6th 2017, we are holding a Gala Event for the “Smile of The Child”, a non- profit organisation in Greece that aims to help every child in need no matter what colour, race or religion they are,” Poppy says.
“With this Gala we are aiming to purchase a Multi Medical Unit worth over $500,000 that will travel across Greece, even to the most remote areas. It will offer free medical assistance to children whose parents have no financial means to help them, on a 24 -hour, seven-days-a-week basis, 365 days a year. Konstantina’s arrival taught us the real meaning of love. This is how the Konstantina Angelique Gribilas Fund came to be, to help charities and communities in need.”
This is not the Gribilas’ first dedicated effort to honour their beloved daughter’s memory by being giving; in 2015 March they held a fundraising event that raised $400,000 to cover all the costs for medical equipment needed by the Intensive Care Unit at the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.
Earlier in his life, Kostas had experienced another extremely onerous period when he went from being an active and successful TV journalist in Athens to a young man fighting for his life. “Up until the age of 30, I was living a normal life as all young men do, without really understanding that something bad can knock on your door,” he says.
“Within hours my whole life turned upside down; from the day that I was diagnosed with my heart issues to the day that I had a heart transplant, death stared me in the face many times.” The parents of a young Australian man, Doujon Zammit, who had been beaten to death outside a nightclub in Mykonos, donated their son’s heart to save Kostas’ life.
“I believe that the last chapter of my experience was the kind, selfless act of the Zammits,” Kostas says. “They gave me a lesson in life. The best medication for your soul is to help and give to others in need when you are at your lowest without expecting anything in return.”
Like Doujon’s parents, who gave a new lease of life to Kostas, the Gribilas’ have made it their life’s goal to offer the opportunity for a healthy, hope-filled life to children around Greece. “Our mission is to continue what Konstantina taught us,” they say. “We aim to continue to raise money and awareness for those less fortunate and for where there is a need.”
The Smile of the Child Gala Event Details →
Date: Friday, October 6, 2017
Venue: Doltone House Australian Technology Park
Includes: 3 course dinner, live entertainment, celebrities including MC’s for the night are Andreas Georgiou, lead actor from the most popular Greek series Brousko, and superstar Cypriot TV actor and producer, Koullis Nikolaou. English entertainment is C Major from the television reality show ‘The Voice’, and for one night only, all the way from Greece is Kelly Kelekidou.
Cause: To raise funds for the purchase of a critical mobile preventative medical unit, which will allow the possibility of children in remote areas of Greece to receive the necessary medical examinations/treatments.
*Purchase tickets here .
For those who can not attend and would like to make a donation →
Name: KONSTANTINA ANGELIQUE GRIBILAS FUND
Bank: St George Bank