It is an NGO with a Consultative Status in the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and headquarters in Athens. In 2012, the Foundation was renamed as “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation” in order to expand its action in accordance with timely humanitarian and social issues.
The aim of the Foundation is the protection of children’s and families’ rights, through advocacy and action focusing especially on education, peace, health, social solidarity and culture. The Foundation participates in the fight against violence, poverty, illiteracy, discrimination, giving particular emphasis in combating sexual abuse of children and paedophilia, human trafficking, exploitation of children as soldiers, war victims, etc. Through conferences, publications and campaigns, the Foundation contributes to the sensitization and awareness of the Greek and international public opinion about the problems of children and families, especially those related to the respect of the International Convention on Children’s Rights, as well as the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. At the same time, it encourages research or efforts that serve ecumenical ideals and give examples of noble actions. It co-operates with UNESCO and with many international, national and local governmental and non-governmental organizations.
It has developed the “Chain for Peace” program to support the children victims of armed conflicts in the Balkans and in the Middle East. Through this program, the Foundation sent tones of first aid support, medication, food and clothes in the Balkan region, it has created a Surgery Center in Gracanica (Kossovo) and the “Athena” Kindergarten in Belgrade. It has also financed the creation of the Early Childhood Resource and Training Center in Bethlehem in the framework of the UNESCO Project “Bethlehem 2000”, it has supported the creation of the Institute for Peace Studies and the Alexandria Center for Hellenistic Studies in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. It has sponsored the UNESCO International Seminar “Disaster risk Management of World Heritage Properties” held in Ancient Olympia (2008) as well as the creation of a Kindergarten in Ano Liossia (Athens) and the program for the support of the remote areas of Greece, such as villages in the prefecture of Xanthi (Miki, Genisea, Diomideia), Fourni island, etc. It participated in the “1 GOAL- Education for All” global campaign in Greece and it was one of the founders of the “End Human Trafficking Now” global campaign. It supports vulnerable social groups and it contributed to the creation of the first Oncology Hospital for Children in Greece “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis-ELPIDA”.
“ELPIDA Association of Friends of children with cancer” is a Greek NGO founded by the Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, in 1990. The first goal of ELPIDA was the creation of the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the “St Sophia” Children Hospital in Athens. Until then, children suffering from cancer in Greece were condemn to their tragic fate because the Greek State could not cover the high cost of therapy for each child in the USA or in Europe. Thanks to the existence of ELPIDA’s Unit, and later of its pediatric oncology hospital, about 600 children have received transplants up to now and therefore the gift of life.
Due to the fact that many of the children are coming from different parts of Greece, as well as from countries of the Balkan and Mediterranean region, ELPIDA implemented one more initiative: the creation of the ELPIDA Guest House to offer hospitality to children suffering from cancer and to their parents, in a warm environment, safeguarding quality of life and supporting them. It was inaugurated in 1999 and since then, about 700 families have been accommodated there for free, relieved from the expenses of staying in Athens for months and considering it as their second home.
The Guest House is a five-story building close to the hospital. It accepts children ranging from a few days old to the age of 17 years old, for periods of one month to 18 months, depending on how long the treatment lasts. The third major project of ELPIDA was the construction and operation of the first Oncology Hospital for children in Greece. It was inaugurated in 2010 and was offered to the Greek State. On both administrative and operational levels, the new Hospital forms part of the “Agia Sophia” Children’s Hospital under the name of Pediatric Oncology Unit “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis – ELPIDA”.
The hospital is a relief to the Greek society providing children with effective treatments and ensuring top nursing services against neoplasmatic diseases and haematological malignancies. Special attention was paid to the therapeutic approach of the building’s interior and exterior environment. Moreover, the hospital has school, playgrounds, guest rooms for parents, libraries and many other facilities that make children’s stay easier, creative and more comfortable. At the same time, ELPIDA is supporting the parents who are facing financial difficulties due to the economic crisis in Greece. The next project of ELPIDA is the creation of a Bone Marrow Donor Bank at the hospital.
Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis
Goodwill Ambassador UNESCO, Founder & President, The “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation” - The “Elpida Friends' Association of Children with Cancer”
Greek humanist, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, is a Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO, founder and president of the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation” and of the “ELPIDA Friends’ Association of Children with cancer”. Through her multiple activities in Greece and abroad, she has built up an extensive record of social, humanitarian and cultural work, on human rights, children’s health, education and welfare, peace culture, dialogue among civilizations as well as the protection of the world cultural heritage. She struggles against poverty, human trafficking, drugs’ misuse, climate change and other issues of today’s concern.
She was born in Athens, Greece. She is married to Mr. Vardis J. Vardinoyannis, Chairman of the Motor Oil Hellas, and is mother of five children. Along with her husband, she supports vulnerable social groups in Greece and abroad. They give scholarships to poor students, provide first aid assistance and food supplies to many disadvantaged people and to the Church, they support local communities. They “adopted” the Greek village “Makistos”, reconstructing it after its destruction by fire in 2007. They are donors of many educational and cultural institutes and they contribute to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina supporting the “Institute for Peace Studies” and funding the creation and operation of the “Alexandria Center for Hellenistic Studies”.
Mrs. Vardinoyannis serves as Board Member in several international organisations, such as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the MENTOR Foundation for the drugs prevention, the “Light of Africa Foundation”, the President’s Council of Special Olympics “Europe-Eurasia”, etc. She holds BA in History of Art and in Economics, MPhil in Archaeology as well as three Honorary Doctorates in Laws, Philosophy and Human Studies.
Thanks to Mrs. Vardinoyannis’ initiatives and the work of ELPIDA Association, about 600 children suffering from cancer were given the opportunity of bone marrow transplantation and therefore a new chance of life. Greece acquired the first Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in 1993 and also a Guest House for parents and sick children in 1999 where more than 700 families have been hosted there until today. In 2010, the third major project of ELPIDA, the first Oncology Children’s Hospital in Greece, was inaugurated and offered to the Greek people. It was named as Pediatric Oncology Unit “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis-ELPIDA” by the Greek State in recognition of appreciation.
She has received many distinctions such as: Chevalier de la Legion d’ Honneur of the French Republic, the Golden Cross of the Order of Benefaction of the Hellenic Republic and the Academy of Athens Award.