The devastating fires that broke out in the summer of 2018 in Eastern Attica (in the communities of Rafina, Marathonas, Nea Makri, Mati and Neos Voutzas) mobilised both corporate and private donors, who wished to contribute to the efforts to bring immediate relief to the people affected and restore the damages in the fire-stricken areas. The Coca-Cola Foundation, in partnership with Bodossaki Foundation, chose to support the “day after” in the life of the wildfires’ victims with a programme structured in two key action lines:

(a) covering the basic needs of the people who saw their closest ones perish in the fires in the blink of an eye and their homes and all their belongings totally destroyed, in partnership with Caritas Hellas;

(b) providing psychological support to those affected, by means of targeted actions at the individual, family and community levels, so that these people can get over the trauma they suffered as a result of their harrowing experience and gradually return to some sort of normality, in partnership with Doctors of the World / Médecins du Monde – Greece and the Association for Regional Development and Mental Health (EPAPSY).

These two action lines resulted as priorities from the extensive needs assessment carried out by the Bodossaki Foundation team through on site visits in the affected areas, meetings and consultations with local residents, NGOs and stakeholders who had been active on the ground from the very first moment, to assist the efforts to deal with the crisis.

Results

Thanks to the concerted efforts of all those involved, the initial target of 1,400 programme beneficiaries was exceeded, with the final number reaching 2,135. These include vulnerable groups of the population, such as 436 children and 436 elderly citizens.

A financial allowance of 1,500 euros was granted to 110 families, representing 295 individuals, in accordance with an application process specifically established for this purpose. The households selected were those with the highest vulnerability assessment, while another 40 families received food supplies, cleaning articles and household appliances.

The programme’s most crucial component was the psychological support of those affected, aimed at helping people get over the trauma of their harrowing experience and gradually return to some sort of normality, helping themselves and those around them.

In total, 1,679 affected persons received counselling services in the form of 1,653 individual and family therapy sessions. An additional 954 complementary activities also took place, including house visits, escorting people and activities involving liaising with other bodies to ensure better handling of incidents, while 37 group interventions were also carried out in nursery schools, cultural venues and mental health structures. Moreover, employees of health centres in the wider area who were also affected by the fires were offered training in the recognition of mental disorders and suicide risk.

Sustainability

Drawing on the support that they received, those affected are managing to cope with the crisis and gradually return to some sort of normality.

The local community and the local bodies involved were trained in the detection of cases requiring psychological support and in the management of similar emergencies. Moreover, the local bodies now know where to refer similar incidents, when they cannot handle these themselves.

Bodossaki Foundation sought out and secured additional funding, which covered the granting of financial allowances to 12 more families and the provision of psycho-social support services to 200 more individuals.

At the same time, The Coca-Cola Foundation, in partnership with Bodossaki Foundation, continues to support activities to protect and restore of both the natural and the man-made environment in the affected areas, in cooperation with “Institute Team for the World Environmental Alliance 2004+” and the competent bodies.