By Surrey News Group, United Kingdom (Originally in English)
About two decades ago, a 10-year-old boy named Andrea Yannopoulos touched the hearts of thousands of Greek people through his appearance on a TV show “Red Card” just weeks before his passing. During the show, instead of talking about his own painful battle with a deadly disease, Andrea shared his hope and vision of having an organization for children who do not smile “because they don’t have money to buy toys, they don’t have food, and some of them don’t even have parents.”
Andrea’s vision has been realized through The Smile of the Child. Over the years, it has grown to become Greece’s largest nonprofit organization, with more than 420 employees and approximately 2,350 volunteers who look after 350 children full time. The staff manages 11 homes in Athens, a nationwide 24-hour helpline and mobile medical units, as well as many other services for the welfare and protection of thousands of children.
However, the country’s economic crisis threatened the survival of the organization. In July 2015, The Smile of the Child issued a press release stating that it was facing a financial deadlock, and the president of the organization told Sky News that the homes for the children they were helping in Athens might need to close within months. Hearing this sad news, Supreme Master Ching Hai generously contributed GBP 8,141 (US$13,000) through our Surrey, United Kingdom Center to The Smile of the Child in August 2015.
In a follow-up letter of appreciation, Costas Yannopoulos, the father of Andrea and the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the organization, thanked Master for Her financial support and stated that “with the vision that every child smiles, we follow in what Andreas had encouraged us: So let’s all help. If we all unite we will succeed!” We pray that Heaven will bless The Smile of the Child in their noble mission, and all families in Greece will live in love, peace and prosperity.