Athens January Conference – Lesley Millar

Just back from the Project Meeting in Athens on January 9th. We arrived to discover it had been snowing – in Athens! The Project Meeting went extremely well with lots of exciting plans for the future in Italy, Denmark and Poland.

On January 10th HRDC had organised a conference, attended by over 100 delegates, with speakers representing various organisations working with the Elders. We were welcomed by Mr Fostiropoulos, Deputy Mayor for Municipality of Paleo Faliro who were hosting the conference.

The first presentation was from Mrs Petropoulou from the Centre of Open Protection for the Elderly, who spoke about the position of the Elder in society and the work of her organisation. She was followed by the President of the Women’s Literary Team, Mrs Eleni Tsialts, who spoke eloquently about the importance of writing and the visual links between printed words on the page and lace. The third presentation was from Dr. Antonis Mougias from the Hellenic Psychogeriatric Association, who gave us the sombre statistics around dementia and Alzheimer’s – a presentation that provoked lively responses from the audience, most of whom were drawn from the community of the elder. Next was Professor Ziogas who spoke of his new career since retirement, that of developing a wine from pomegranates, a fruit which has extraordinary health giving properties. His harvest this year has produced 500 bottles, one of which he brought for us to taste, and it was delicious.

Then came the highlight of the conference, the outcome of the Greek Transparent Boundaries project. HRDC have been working with Elderly Open Care Centre of Palaio Faliro, documenting traditional songs that the elders have brought with them from their home villages and towns and using these songs to form networks which have now become small choirs. Three of these choirs, all members over 80, each performed for us. For those of us present it was an extraordinarily moving experience and we thank the members of these choirs for their generosity and energy of performance.

Greek Songs – 5 from UCA on Vimeo.

The performances were followed by a reading of one of many poems created by the participants from ‘memory’ workshops enabled by HRDC and the Women’s Literacy Team. Finally each of the Transparent Boundaries project members gave a brief summary of their particular project.

Poem created by Eleni Tsialta from the material collected from the workshop discussions:

Lace in the Window
My little rose in the window,
cool water I give you, but you keep fading.
Where are the days you blossomed, and your pot was smiling?
Why not blossom? Why not laugh? Why not sweet smelling?
If you have put me in your pot, and in your heart closet,
take a thread, a tiny thread, and take also a chrochet.
A rose tiny and white for angels to protect it.
make for the window, a valance out of lace.

You’ll have to watch if I leave, you’ll have to see if I fade
and with the sunset breeze to wave the lace.
And when you’re grown white, from that your own hands
I will be found by a young girl, your own granddaughter.

2 comments on “Athens January Conference – Lesley Millar

  1. pappairo on said:

    Our Elders loved you and really enjoy meeting all the partners

    • Lesley Millar on said:

      Thank you so much! I watch the videos of the choirs with the greatest pleasure, and am still so moved by them. Please tell them we think of them here in the UK!

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