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Hara Tziouvara: President of “Doctors of the World Greece”

Hara Tziouvara: President of “Doctors of the World Greece”

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Dynamic and restless, she reaches out everywhere to talk about volunteering, to give, to inspire, to influence and to carry out the great mission she has undertaken. She was born in Montreal, Canada to Greek parents, economic immigrants. There, she grew up in an environment with a social culture where volunteering has an essential place in people’s lives.

Pediatrician-neonatologist, she graduated from the Medical School of Athens and has her own private practice, in Glyfada. She connected with the organization in 2011 and speaks enthusiastically about the Médecins du Monde, a global network with 17 delegations, where each country maintains its autonomy. With missions all over Greece and Africa, she recites stories for which they lead us to reflect on gratitude for all the good in our lives. President of the organization since 2019, today, she fights with the same tenacity with all the volunteer doctors along with everyday people, to give everyone access to health services, for a life with the dignity that everyone deserves.

When did you start volunteering?

My relationship with volunteering started very early, first through school and then through all areas of public life. So, I was always familiar with volunteering and how important it is to literally set your heart and mind into what you offer. At some point in the course of my medical studies, I realized with surprise that I had chosen medicine not only as my favorite science, but also as the bridge to volunteering that I wanted to do. Volunteering is a basic need, a deep expression of love, where the volunteer becomes a human link in a chain of solidarity. Only then does it have value. If you do not feel it, do not do it. But if you feel it, do not miss it. I chose Doctors of the World, 11 years ago because of their reliability, commitment and effectiveness. For its clinics and hundreds of programs. For their immediate adaptability, listening to the needs of the people they serve. For their autonomy, despite being part of the Médecins du Monde global network, with 17 delegations. For the warm welcome I felt that morning when I called the organization, determined to become a volunteer. And for many other reasons, I continue to discover every day that validate my choice.

«I chose and loved medicine not only as a science, but also as my next step to volunteering»

What is your vision today as President?

The right for every person to have access to the fundamental and highest standard of health, mental and physical, without discrimination. Every vulnerable and marginalized person, to have access to basic human rights and to do everything in our power to ensure it. So that no one is “invisible”.

Greek society is sensitive and has “filotimo”. Is there a response from volunteers?

The economic crisis and the refugee issue have made some of us even more sensitive. We took to the streets and did what we had to do to help restore some balance. “Filotimo” (represents a way of life for Greeks and includes ideas and virtues such as honor, justice, courage, dignity, pride, self-sacrifice, respect, freedom, gratitude and hospitality) is also a strong emotion that can be exploited and nurtured by important volunteers. On the positive side, young people are increasingly seeking to become volunteers. Of course, volunteering comes in many forms and the great thing is that it does not always require a physical presence. Every donation to support our actions is equally important. We are all potential volunteers.

Does the business world respond with sponsorships? What do you need most?

For 31 years, we have won the trust and recognition of the companies that have supported us with faith and dedication, sharing our common vision for a better world. Specifically, our sponsorship policy for private companies combines sponsorships in gifts, in services, in donations or in financing of our actions, but also in collaborations that unite their valuable human and financial potential with us. Our society needs the cooperation with corporate social responsibility as they contribute substantially with their support, both in emergencies and in the day-to-day operation of the organization. The flexibility and immediacy of business sponsorships is a great advantage. Unfortunately, there has been a recent decline in resources due to the financial difficulties of the private sector and at the same time a rapid increase in the number of people seeking financial and social support. With the new challenges of the pandemic, perhaps now and more than ever, we need the dynamic support of the business world to care for our vulnerable fellow human beings.

See Also

Covid-19. How did you experience this great crisis?

The pandemic crisis has been a major challenge for MDM and for the world. I am however proud that we stood up to the challenges and as medical humanitarian organization, we remained open and combative. We continued the operation of our Polyclinics, making the conditions safer for employees, patients and volunteers. In close coordination with EODY, we stood by the government, jointly protecting vulnerable groups. We did street-work actions, providing personal protection kits and information material to vulnerable, marginalized groups. We went door-to-door with medicines, food and provided medical services to isolated people. Online, we provided psychosocial support to people experiencing depression, isolation, fear of death and loss, and to people with mental illness who do not have access to services due to lockdowns. We organized an online community of seniors via tablet and trained them to contact us for any medical reason and for companionship. We furthermore linked seniors amongst themselves.

It is worth mentioning that in 2020, with all our actions, we served over 25,000 people which received health care and over 7,000 patients in our Polyclinics, which I believe contributed significantly to lighten the load of the National Health System’s structures and services.

What other programs are you prioritizing?

Our priority is to continue with an increased level of services, to help our fellow human beings who do not have access to basic daily goods and who have difficulty getting by, for special and vulnerable groups who are marginalized and “forgotten”. We are also prioritizing the development of new innovative programs with an emphasis on children and youth at risk of social exclusion to prevent both school dropouts and juvenile delinquency.  We are focusing on vocational guidance in the field of health and welfare and the promotion of youth employment, for the prevention of homelessness. As seniors face greater health risks and increased psychosocial needs, we have also concentrated on developing an innovative social support program to support 60+ people, integrating the use of digital media. Of course we remain open to proposals, ideas and collaborations that could alleviate and make the lives of our fellow citizens more humane, giving hope and optimism to those who have stopped hoping and have stopped believing. Where there are people, the Doctors of the World will be there without discrimination.

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