Eat olive oil and watch football: alternative ways to help Greece

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Choose a Greek charity to support
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Many people in Greece need help, and perhaps many more are going to, so giving money to humanitarian groups working in the country may be the best and most direct way to make a difference. Choosing which humanitarian group can be difficult, however, since most people aren’t very familiar with Greek charities.

One good shortcut was set up in 2013 by the Greek America Foundation, a non-profit organization intending to “promote, preserve and perpetuate the Greek culture, history and heritage in North America”. Project Hope for Greece recruited people to contribute to a selection of vetted and reviewed charities, including Médecins Sans Frontières Greece, To Chamoyelo Tou Paidiou, a children’s charity, and Desmos, which itself helps to match donors of goods, services and cash with Greek non-profits. The Project Hope for Greece website is therefore a good starting point to help you decide.

Perhaps the most enjoyable way to support Greece, and to get some common feeling with many Greek people, is to pick a team to follow. As your enthusiasm grows, the cost of the replica shirts and expensive tickets will come naturally.

Like most football nations, Greece has an aristocracy of powerful clubs. Historically, these were the three big Athens teams, Olympiakos, Panathinaikos and AEK Athens, known together as the POK. Olympiakos were last season’s champions and will compete in the Champions League this year, making them the glamour choice and the easiest to watch on British television. Panathinaikos will be in Europe too, either Champions League or Europa League, along with PAOK (from Thessaloniki), Asteras Tripoli (Tripoli) and Atromitos (Peristeri, an Athens suburb). This will also be a big season for AEK, who are back in the top division, known as the Superleague, after several years away following their own financial disaster – a hopeful symbol for Greece as a whole, perhaps. Not that supporters of Olympiakos and Panathinaikos will feel that way.

Promote Greek dignity
The country’s financial situation could hardly be any worse, yet much of the misery that Greeks feel isn’t isn’t about money, it’s about suddenly being Europe’s charity case. Whatever practical measures you take to support Greece, therefore, it is worth remembering – and repeating to others – that this is not just any old “proud nation” that has got terribly into debt. This is Greece, formerly known as Ancient Greece, the country in whose language the founding documents of the modern world were written.

greece athenes

If you have ever meant to, now would be a good time to read Plato’s Republic or Aristotle’s Poetics or Oedipus the King by Sophocles, and consider how much that peninsula and archipelago have given the world – including the word “archipelago” and an awful lot else in English. Most present-day Greeks can’t take much individual credit for Plato, of course, but neither are they individually much to blame for where their country is.

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