Stella Tsolakidou – 26/4/13
Awarded Greek-American director and founder of Exile Films, Valerie Kontakos, has turned to crowdfunding to complete her new documentary of a Greek orphanage different from others. To complete the last months’ shootings and be able to promote the documentary abroad, there is a campaign running till May 4 on Kickstarter, the world’s largest online platform for funding creative projects.
Kontakos aims to present the story of the women who established this unique institution in Greece. By highlighting a different aspect of the Greek society that is not often in the newspaper headlines, the director wishes to give the world, and especially women, a true example of spirituality and inspiration.
Lyrio Children Foundation is located in the settlement of New Voutza in Attica and its purpose is to provide free shelter, health care and education to unprotected children, who are left without their parents either because they are not alive or because they are facing serious family, economic or social problems. The orphanage was founded in 1967 by six young nuns whose fascinating story and revolutionary spirit make up an important part of the documentary. The documentary does not merely evolve around the charity work of the foundation, but rather explores the way of defining oneself and choosing your own path in life.
The six women who founded Lyrio were friends from Piraeus and in 1962 decided to run away from home to become nuns. However, back at the time, this would not be possible for the young women unless they had their parents’ consent. Their parents called the police who tracked down the girls and brought them back home. After their first running away, the young women were locked inside their rooms, and their parents were so determined to stop them that they got a formal decision form the Greek Orthodox Church forbidding them to enter any monastery within the Greek territory. However, the six girls would not give up on their dream and fled their houses three more times before finally making their dream come true.
Yet, their dream was not to simply become nuns, but to start their own guild and take care of children who had either lost their parents or their parents could not raise them. It took them some years, but they eventually achieved what they wanted. Today Lyrio is one of the oldest childcare institutions in Greece operating without the support of the official state, without any public relations or traditional charity campaigns launched by socialites.
Lyrio currently hosts more than 65 children offering them shelter, food, education and the possibility to stay with the nuns, who the children refer to as “mother”, for as long as necessary until they manage to stand on their own feet.
To find out more about the project and help with the completion of the documentary in any way possible, visit kickstarter.