Friday April 18, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
17o C
11o C
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Saving the stories of those who left

 Greek Canadian spearheads effort to salvage local archive of migration organization
Daniel Esdras, director of Greece’s International Organization for Migration.

By Alexander Clapp

Hundreds of thousands of precious paper documents are currently rotting away in the basement of the International Organization for Migration in Athens. They detail the stories of everyday Greeks who left their country during the tumultuous decades of the mid-20th century. Those people went on to carve out new lives in Australia, the United States, Canada and elsewhere.

The migrants left Greece, but Greece never left them. One was the father of New York entrepreneur Georgios Stroumboulis. A year ago Stroumboulis traveled to Athens to trace his father’s journey from Greece to Canada. At the International Organization for Migration, Stroumboulis was able to locate the very document that enabled his father to make the long journey from Athens to the Americas over four decades earlier. It was a chilling discovery. “This piece of history signified a transition to a new land, the story of an immigrant seeking a better life and the prospect of a new family,” recalls Stroumboulis.

The experience provided Stroumboulis with a keen appreciation for his father’s struggles. But he was also struck by the fragility of that immigration form itself, which now hangs securely above his work desk. The IOM’s archive room was dimly lit and moth ridden. The documents were disintegrating, stacked haphazardly on the floor and available to the public only upon special request. Their future was less promising still. Plans are in the works to discard the archives – numbering at least 200,000 documents – to clear floor space in the IOM’s cluttered basement.

Stroumboulis felt compelled enough to act. In November of 2012 he founded Save the Archives, an initiative aimed at preserving and digitalizing the migration history of Greek immigrants. “I feel passionate about preserving these archives because I’m not an isolated case,” notes Stroumboulis. “There are thousands upon thousands of Greeks just like me with a similar story.”

To fund the time, resources and equipment required to digitize the paper documents, Save the Archives plans to raise 25,000 euros in the coming months from private organizations and individual donors. Once the funds are amassed, a check will be written to the IOM to hire and procure the necessary resources to see the process through. The work will take an estimated 9-12 months. Upon its completion, Save the Archives hopes to create an online portal that will enable worldwide access to the records. The movement can be followed – and contributed to – at

The cause has drawn high praise from representatives of the international community in Athens. “These archives are a vital link to the past for Greeks of the diaspora in Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United States,” observed Canadian Ambassador Robert W. Peck. “I salute efforts to support this very worthy cause and preserve these precious archives for future generations.” Australian Ambassador Jenny Bloomfield shares those sentiments. “I think it’s very important that we all unite and we all become connected, because it’s a very important source of our shared history. It’s something that should be preserved into the future and digitized for showcasing both cultures in both countries.”

According to Daniel Esdras, the director of Greece’s International Organization for Migration, “there is a risk that valuable records of emigrants who traveled from Greece to a variety of host countries outside of Europe may be destroyed if the digitalization of the archive fails.” Much work still remains to be done. Thus far Save the Archives has raised just over 1,000 euros. Despite the current economic climate in Athens, more than half of those donations have come from Greeks within Greece.

The retrieval of his father’s immigration papers gave Stroumboulis a humbling new perspective. “The documents are a reminder of the sacrifices my parents and many other Greeks made to start a fresh new life. It represents a struggle that all Greek migrants have had to endure. I look at that archive and think how lucky I am – and how necessary it is to do better, be stronger and give back to our culture as much as possible.”

“ is not only a movement to save the migration archives,” he continued. “It’s an appeal to preserve a piece of a story that every Greek living outside of Greece has endured.” , Sunday December 22, 2013 (01:33)  
City of Piraeus undergoes transportation transformation
The real deputies of the Greek Parliament
Pilio-based tourism professionals launch online campaign for year-round direct flights from UK to Volos
Copy business with a difference
‘Palikari,’ a Greek migrant’s story destined to echo in eternity
It could have been a scene from Orthodox Easter anywhere in Greece: Relatives, friends and co-workers gathering around the fire to roast lamb, share a drink and have a dance. This particular...
Drawing Greek animators together
“Talking about Greek animation abroad 20 years ago, people would have just laughed. Now we are making an effort to open up.” Greek director, concept artist and screenwriter Angelos Rouvas re...
Inside Life
Inside Travel
Inside Gastronomy
1. Former Red Bourousis wrecks Olympiakos´s hopes for a break
2. PPC to issue corporate bond of 500 mln
3. Greece offers to help find Turkish F-16 lost in 1996
4. Primary surplus continued by end-March
5. Eurobank eyes top Core Tier 1 level in Greece
6. Tourist spending up 17.3 pct
more news
This Week
1. Greece startup leaders say they can’t break jobless cycle alone
2. Ground-breaking Good Friday mass signals thaw in Cyprus
3. Mayoral candidates clash over Athens mosque plans
4. Seven arrested over Toumba violence
5. National Bank of Greece plans senior unsecured bond sale
6. Greek current account deficit widens in February
This Week
1. Bomb explodes outside Bank of Greece
2. Samaras sees no need for third bailout
3. CCTV footage from Nigrita Prison shows signs of inmate torture [Video]
4. Greece's market return mirrors return of tourists
5. Car bomb explodes outside Greek Central Bank building, no one hurt [Update]
6. Parties start announcing candidates for European Parliament elections
   Find us ...
  ... on
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.