Marianna Vardinoyianni on the Athena Multicultural Children’s Center, Belgrade

Yet another contribution from Elpida: Marianna Vardinoyianni, president of Elpida and of the Foundation for the Child and the Family, has a talent for making visions and plans come true. After the transfusion/transplant units and the hostel, now a cancer hospital for children, with the help of a donation of 1.5 million euros from the Onassis Foundation and 2.8 million euros raised by Alpha channel’s recent Telethon, is in the pipeline. On June 22, Vardinoyianni presented the Athena Multicultural Children’s Center in Belgrade to the press. The center was built and equipped at the initiative of Elpida and the Foundation for the Child and the Family. The project is under the auspices of UNESCO, for which Vardinoyianni is a goodwill ambassador, and was implemented thanks to the tremendous response to the Elpida Telethon organized by the association and the foundation in 1999. Memories of war in the Balkans are still fresh, and the drama of innocent children who were victims of the conflict is still evident. «All of that touched us deeply,» Vardinoyianni told the press, «and we decided we could not remain uninvolved.» Apart from money, the telethon raised large quantities of food, clothing and medical supplies that were sent to refugee camps in the former Yugoslavia and Albania. And a large sum of money was made available to equip the surgery and post-surgery units that were established in collaboration with Doctors of the World at the upgraded medical center in Gracani, Kosovo. Another important project was the Athena Multicultural Center for Children in Zemun municipality, Belgrade. The center, which caters to preschool and school-age children, offers them «a warm embrace,» Vardinoyianni said, and a place to acquire knowledge and develop their creativity, which UNESCO’s educational program promotes.