«A small woman approaches me and starts talking. In her hands she holds some papers. It is photographs. I look at them and I see myself, my kids, my country… She asks me “isn’t that you?” and her eyes are sparkling. “Yes!” I answer and we hug each other. She is the mother of my “child”.
Somewhere behind her, half-hidden and shy stands my Idrissa. He wears his school uniform. He looks at me carefully with his bright smiling eyes. I hug him and tears start running down my cheeks…only for a few moments though. Then they are replaced merely by smiles».
Nancy Kougli is the sponsor of Idrissa through the Greek department of Actionaid. She travelled in October 2013 along with another 27 sponsors to the district of Bo in Sierra Leone. The mission aimed at building a school and a well for the local community. Their target is now complete: 200 kids gained access to education in a country where 35% of the population older than 15 years old can read and write. 1800 people have now access to clean water while only 60% of the country has this “advantage”.
Actionaid is an international NGO, working with over 15 million people in 45 countries dedicated to the fight against poverty and injustice, some of the main priorities of international development.
In 2000, all donor countries committed to international development decided to take further steps of action. They set eight goals (Millennium Development Goals) that fundamentally are focused on improving people’s lives, reducing poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease around the globe by 2015. Greece as one of the older members of European Union, the world’s largest supplier of development aid, committed to donate for that purpose 0.7 per cent of its Gross National Income (GNI) by 2015.
But the commitment was not met. In Greece and other countries affected by the financial crisis broke out in 2009, major cuts in public spending affected the EU aid levels. Aidwatch, the European body focused on keeping track of how EU countries score in terms of development, highlights the existing problem of the country. Their annual 2014 Concord report “Aid Beyond 2015: Europe’s role in financing and implementing sustainable development goals post 2015” shows that the largest cuts in aid were seen in Portugal (23%), Cyprus (12.5%) and Greece (10%) where the total aid was 229.7 millions just 0,13% of Gross National Income.
For example, since the Greek government adopted very tough decisions on public spending, the financing of development assistance projects by Hellenic aid dropped dramatically. This led the 12 Greek NGOs active in the field of international development to be facing serious fundraising problems. Most of them have withdrawn their activities from the countries in need due to restricted development budgets. They now focus mostly on fighting poverty “at home”.
Actionaid Hellas is a remarkable exception without the situation to be ideal. It remains one of the few organizations committed to the Millennium Goals that still manages to hold overseas programmes during this hard period tormenting the country. The reason for this is that it has established a strong brand in Greece and has about 35.000 supporters contributing through Child Sponsorship program. In the current state of crisis, NGOs in Greece are left to rely mainly on individual donations for fundraising, hoping for some improvement in the post 2015 era.