In the Greek language, ‘mahi’ means fight or battle.
In the case of MAHI (Mothers Assisting Humanitarian Initiatives) – founded by White Rock resident Golfo Tsakumis – it’s clearly a matter of fighting the good fight.
This month, Tsakumis celebrated the assembling of a container-load of humanitarian-aid items for her native Greece at the Avra development on George Street (built by Tsakumis’ family, and where she and husband Bill now live).
Tsakumis noted it is the third such shipment created by her “group of seven moms” since last September.
Her organization received high-level recognition May 16, as Greek Consul General Ilias Kremmydas and Port Metro Vancouver harbour master George Giannakis came out to inspect the truckload of goods – which range from clothing, school and medical supplies to a disabled scooter – that will be shipped to Athens over the next month, expedited by Giannakis.
“Things are getting worse in Greece – there is much that needs to be done,” said Tsakumis, who was joined by MAHI secretary Christina Zambus – owner of White Rock’s Cosmos Restaurant – and other supporters, including members of the Patrides international Greek-language newspaper group.
Economic and political chaos in Greece has been compounded by natural disasters, including a recent earthquake on the island of Kefalonia, they explained.
“Children and mothers are suffering, as well as older people – our hearts couldn’t take it as mothers,” Tsakumis said of her decision to form her ad-hoc group, which was granted charitable status in 2012.
“It’s great to have such help from the Greek community here,” said Kremmydas. “This initiative has put the Greek population of the Vancouver area on the world map. They are less than 20,000 people, but of all the Greek communities around the world, this is among the top five (in providing aid).”
Also on hand to celebrate was Marianne Brown of the South Surrey Rotary Club, which, together with the White Rock Rotary Club, contributed the scooter. It is earmarked for a man who was disabled by strokes at an early age.
“Bless them – we can’t thank Rotary enough,” Tsakumis said.
She said her organization also partners with – and receives support from – SOS Children’s Villages International and the Big Sisters of B.C.
“We share some of the clothing we collect that may not be suitable for the climate in Greece,” she said, noting that among the current shipment to Athens is about 175 boxes of used and mostly new clothing.