Attica Wildfires: Lending a Hand On the Long Road to Recovery
For yet another year, millions of visitors from around the world have enjoyed the joys of the Greek summer: island fun, unparalleled hospitality, experiences that will last a lifetime. Some of them chose vacation experts Hellenic Holidays to help them make the most of their time in Greece, and for that we thank them.
Unfortunately, however, the summer of 2018 was also not without tragedy. On July 23rd a vicious wildfire, fueled by strong winds, ripped through the seaside community of Mati on the eastern coast of Attica. Local families, who only hours earlier had themselves been enjoying the sea and sunshine, saw their lives ripped apart. Dozens perished in the flames in one of the worst disasters of its kind ever to hit Greece. Many others were left with life-threatening injuries. Over 1,500 homes were severely damaged or destroyed.
The catastrophe was such that the disaster dominated the international headlines for several days. Yet, as is always the case in such disasters, the world moves on much faster than the victims ever can. Indeed, even now, the fire continues to take its toll. On September 11th, its latest victim, 26-year-old Elisavet Hardaloupa, succumbed to her injuries from the fire that had already claimed the life of her mother. The official death toll now stands at 99.
Such tragedies can provoke feelings of despair and fatalism. They can make us simply want to turn away. There is only so much one’s soul can take.
Yet even in tragedy there are rays of hope. They come in the form of the outpourings of sympathy and support from across the globe. They come in the form of the large queues that formed in the wake of the fire as strangers waited patiently to give blood for the casualties that they would never meet.
The people of Mati will never forget the fire that exacted such a heartbreaking toll. And they won’t forget the loved ones that were lost. But they will rebuild. And they will do so with the assistance of communities near and far in an expression of the shared humanity that unites us all.
In its own small way, Hellenic Holidays will also be assisting in this effort. Throughout 2019, a portion of the proceeds of every vacation, honeymoon and group trip sold will be donated towards assisting the victims of the fire. The funds will be transferred regularly to The Hellenic Initiative which is providing effective and responsible assistance on the ground.
“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
– Ancient Greek Proverb.