Κυριακή 25 Ιουνίου 2017

The Being Green Project

"Dione" at The Being Green Project

If there is one topic which (at last) comes up regularly, it's our current environmental situation. Is this because we already feel some climate disorder? We're running out of time, and the issue can no longer be avoided and solutions have to be found.
There are no small initiatives for environmental protection. 

That's the main message of The Being Green Project, which was launched on the 2nd of June under the Erasmus+ program. Located in the surrounding of the Oil City of Okhtyrka, Ukraine, the project gathered some thirty participants from different nations (Armenia, Georgia, Latvia, Denmark, Greece, Turkey, Macedonia and Ukraine) around the same table.

Friendships among members were quickly created which led to a strong team-spirit appearing and made it possible for everyone to bring their skills and knowledge at the initiative.
Many topics were discussed, such as the human footprint, the different kind of pollutions, solutions that have already been found or that are in the process of being researched. Every country that was represented could share and teach about its own ecological situation. This led to concrete and encouraging discussions.

As a participant of this Project, I want to personally highlight how cooperation revealed to be advantageous. In the second part of the week, once everyone of us had created stronger affinities between each other, we were asked to create a theatrical event to promote ecology in a Ukrainian School. The organisers only gave us 2 days to prepare for the theatrical performance. 
We felt a lot of pressure because the message we needed to transmit was very important. We couldn’t fail in our attempt!
This created, in every participant, a strong sense of responsibility which made it possible to, though effort, finalize it in time.
All the time we spent together doing group activities will not have been in vain. The children laughed, the children cried, and to see how much we managed to draw their attention meant that OUR work was a success as our message was not ignored.

Five days ago we were strangers. At the end of the project, a lot of us cried as we had to leave the Slavna Paradise Natural Bungalow Park
For the rest of the time, the participants had free time or had the chance to visit Oktyrka and Sumy, two Ukrainian cities with their own specificities. Every evening was dedicated to intercultural sharing which included participants giving presentations about their own countries. 

This was simply more than a project. This small promotion showed us that boundaries don’t exist when it comes to our common home. To reach that huge objective, you just need to plant the seed, irrigate it with motivation, involvement and an open-mind and let it grow. Only together this can be achieved.
Being Green is our common future!

Yannis Faivre, Erasmus Intern - Applied Foreign Languages,
in collaboration with “Dione” local development centre in Ancient Olympia, Greece
- yannis.faivre@orange.fr
- Vaso Charitopoulou, Head of “Dione”,

Τετάρτη 21 Ιουνίου 2017

The “Trust Yourself’’ Project in Sakarya, Turkey

"Dione" at the “Trust Yourself’’ Project in SakaryaTurkey 

A new project under the title “Trust Yourself” was organized by the “Zift Organization” from 3 to 11 June in SakaryaTurkey.
This project focused on finding innovative ways to help and incorporate people with disabilities into the broader society, bringing together 50 participants from Turkey, Romania, Slovakia, Poland and Greece.

The participants were engaged in various activities aimed at raising awareness about creating a society where disabled people could live a normal life as everyone else. The participants of the project met with disabled students at a local middle school and had also a meeting with the City Mayor of Sakarya Municipality.

“Dione” Local Development Centre, established in Ancient Olympia, was represented in collaboration with the cooperative social enterprise “Eco Divri” by the Erasmus Intern Vugar Mamedov from Azerbaijan and the Erasmus Young Entrepreneur Emmanuel Dweh Togba from Liberia.

Their participation was fruitful and contributed meaningfully towards the success of the training project. 

-Vugar Mamedov, vugar.mamedov@yahoo.com
-Emmanuel Dweh Togba, etogba95@gmail.com
-Vaso Charitopoulou, Head of “Dione”,

Σάββατο 17 Ιουνίου 2017

Greek Apiculture

One of the most ancient crafts in Greece faces the challenges of the modern era

History of apiculture in Greece has length more than 5000 years. Through such a long period of time, the whole world has significantly changed; civilizations were built and destroyed, human mindset has become disparate, finally all inventions have reconstructed our ways to do almost everything. Nowadays, most of us cannot imagine doing agriculture without machinery or living without electricity, but Greek beekeeping remained almost untouched. 
The direct keepers of all ancient traditions are the local individual honey producers.

But who are they and why do they still follow old rules of production in 21st century? 
The typical Greek beekeeper is the person who may have any education, age, income and so on. However, all of them have a lot in common; for instance, the same strong passion for customs and honey, respect towards consumers, and, unfortunately, various problems that happen every day in their lives.  

Greek apiculture is very different than in other countries due to the uniqueness of the country’s geography. Mountainous areas, forests, hills and fields are rich with various botanic species and covered with thousands of hives. One single beekeeper usually has around 100 hives dispersed in different isolated apiaries which can have tens of kilometres distance between each other. Therefore, one of the main costs of the Greek honey is transportation expenses. According to our study of micro beekeepers in Elis region in western Peloponnese, fuel expenses can make up 20-25% of total costs. These numbers become much more frightening when we take a look on fuel prices: Greece is at the top of the list!

The second barrier for beekeepers’ prosperity is current economic situation in Europe and particularly in GreeceContinuous stagnation reduced buying power of mass customer and demand for home-made honey. Unfortunately, Greek honey is expensive, especially if it is produced at small scale, and even though small honey producers are telling that their customers are quite loyal, people are starting to buy more and more cheaper substitutes from supermarkets. Furthermore, the State is going to set up new taxes for beekeeping that can hurt a lot this sensitive industry, allowing only corporations to survive and possibly bringing negative effects to beekeepers and to us too, since quality and authenticity will be in danger of disappearing.  

As for the State, small beekeepers have mixed attitudes towards it. Some of them have only negative thoughts because of taxes, others are looking at the governmental institutions with hope, and the smallest group has already been given support, for example subsidies for transportation of hives. However, all of the apiculturists are open for any discussion and ready to suggest various win-win solutions.

The third biggest problem for small honey producers, according to our survey, is the old-fashioned way of doing business. Of course, we are not talking about production process, since traditional practices is one of the things that make products unique in Elis region, but other business activities.
For instance, very few producers, mainly the bigger companies, have their own website and a few sell honey B2B, while others sell directly, from mouth to mouth, to loyal customers who usually live nearby.
Accessibility to home-made honey is low for a common customer who has no way to find and buy it. Moreover, often people even do not know about the existence of available traditionally produced honey, since not many advertising efforts are done by honey producers. The point here is that small beekeepers cannot reach their potential clients, and this weakness is very crucial in time of high competition and big corporations. 
Furthermore, during our interview process, beekeepers have mentioned difficulties with answering one of the key questions of any business: “What is your competitive advantage?” or in other words “Why should consumers buy from you?”
Most of them could outline the high standards of quality, some paid more attention to the organic origins of their products. However, these advantages can be applied to many other micro beekeepers, who also keep the same production traditions. 

It is very essential for beekeepers to stand out with uniqueness and strong identity to gain more customers, especially in times of tough domestic competition and attempts of foreign producers to present their products as Greek ones. Cooperation between the government, educational institutions and apiculturists could be very helpful to increase efficiency and knowledge of important business practices. 

Future: does it exist? 
Nevertheless, the positive points also take place.
Environmental awareness is growing each day and people are ready to pay extra for organic and ethically produced goods, meanwhile some governmental institutions such as EU try to promote such products and support producers. 
In addition, due to rich botanic diversity Greek honey has strong competitive advantage for its nutrition and healing characteristics, which are recognized in biological laboratories. 
Also, some types of honey such as thyme, pine- and oak tree honey can be found mostly only in Greece, therefore it is possible to find the niche on the market without any competition.

Survival of small independent producers is an urgent need: the State would benefit from creating an attractive identity of local products, consumers would be satisfied to enjoy authentic and superior product, meanwhile beekeepers could save traditions and maintain their lifestyle.
It is obvious that it is feasible only by creating stable axes of collaboration.
However, it is still a big question when all these 3 parties –State, consumers and beekeepers- will manage to sit together around the same table and start changing the situation? 

Rostislav Nikulin
Erasmus Intern from Russia, Karelia University of Applied Sciences, Finland, Faculty: International Business,
in collaboration with “Dione” Local Development Centre in Ancient Olympia


Τετάρτη 14 Ιουνίου 2017

"Dione" at the ELIX annual training seminar

Elis’ local development centre at the ELIX annual training seminar for camp leaders

The last 13th and 14th of May ELIX launched officially the 2017's workcamp season with the  camp leaders' training that takes place every year and prepares the future leaders to face the experience of being the head of a group of volunteers in a volunteering program. 

Elis’ local development centre “Dione” participated in this training seminar, being represented by the Erasmus Intern Yannis Faivre from France.

ELIX was founded in 1987 and since this moment, more than 300 voluntary work programs were organized in 104 areas of Greece and more than 5.000 young people participated in workcamps in Greece and abroad. 

During the last few years, ELIX' workcamps have been focusing attention on the social problems aroused after the crisis in the country by organising summer camps for children with economical difficulties, in which volunteers from all over the world come and, in coordination with professional pedagogues, create a series of leisure activities to help them have a nice and fulfilling summer.

During the training for camp leaders, the  participants assisted to sessions to very relevant topics such us the structure of the workcamps, conflict management, intercultural learning, overcoming stereotypes or the usage of non violent communication, among others. All of them realities that they will for sure face in the workcamps. 

The next step of the leaders to be will be to attend the second part of the training in June, in which more specific details related to logistics and finance will be treated; and to fully load their batteries to make the best out of this experience and spend this summer in a unique way!

More info:
·    Yannis Faivre, Erasmus Intern at “Dione” local development centre - email: yannis.faivre@orange.fr
·        Vaso Charitopoulou, Head of “Dione” -
·        www.elix.org.gr