After Elisa’s death, Michel and I went through a period of deep sorrow. We knew that it was not in our hands anymore to save Elisa, but we couldn’t just stand idly by: something had to be done so that what had happened to Elisa would never happen again.
We decided to honour the memory of little Elisa by protecting other children from a similar fate.
Setting out on this endeavour, the first core group of people with the same objective was soon formed: Daphne Economou, writer and president of Cerebral Palsy Greece, Eleni Agathonos, specialist in child protection and Myrto Nielsen, psychologist and writer, offered their services and advice. From that moment on, the idea of creating the ELIZA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, was born. The first Board of Directors was elected on January 21, 2008 and the Society quickly evolved into an active group with a common goal.
In partnership with the SOS Children’s Villages of Greece, we founded the first Home for the Therapeutic Treatment and Rehabilitation of Abused and Neglected Children of pre-school age in Greece. The SOS-ELIZA Home began its operation in 2009, constituting a model centre of child protection. Within the first 7 years , it has offered protection, therapy and rehabilitation to 43 infants, toddlers and young children, while 27 of these are already living in a safe family environment.
As of March 1st 2016, the operation of the Home is the full responsibility of the SOS Children’s Villages and we are certain that the foundations we laid together are the best legacy for its future.
Since 2009, ELIZA has been growing constantly through the planning and operation of new programs, warmly welcomed by the wider public.
In 2013, a joint community program between our Society and the non-governmental Organization One Child, One World was initiated. The purpose of the VIMA program is to support new families faced with problems like poverty and lack of social support, by promptly detecting and intervening, so as to function proactively against child abuse or neglect.
Simultaneously, in order to raise awareness about the extent and the many facets of the obscure phenomenon of child abuse and neglect, we published the informative brochure TODAY! NOT TOMORROW as well as the guide for young parents: ‘ You are not Born a Parent; you Become one’, by the distinguished pediatrician Eleni Valassis – Adam.We also focused on the “Shaken Baby Syndrome” aiming at raising awareness in young mothers and carers of infants of the serious consequences of abrupt shaking of babies.
On a daily basis, the people of ELIZA, the Board of Directors, the management and scientific teams along with the volunteers, all work methodically in an attempt to change the life of children to the better. To achieve this goal, our Society relies exclusively on the support of its donors and sponsors, whom we thank most sincerely.
I would also like to thank my husband Michel, my daughters Alexandra and Olga and all the amazing people, who share their time and love with us, so that we can all carry on together.
Marina Karella, March 2016