ODYSSEAS gUG (limited) was founded in November 2012 by Daphne Vloumidi and Shohreh von Maydell and is recognised as a nonprofit corporation in Germany (tax office Berlin1).
Lesvos, a Greek island between East and West has always been a first step for refugees and migrants. You can clearly see the coast of Turkey as the distance is between 6 and 12 nautical miles. Normally, there were just a handful of arrivals every year. In 2015 the situation became exceptional and Odysseas was there to help, but normally and as of today is involved in small scale projects.
Daphne has been involved as a volunteer already since 2000. Her preferable work was helping families with children and unaccompanied minors.
Since 2010 she lives on Lesvos working in a Hotel. Because of Daphne’s engagement, several guests of the hotel started to help too. This is how it all started and in 2012 the Greek/German Odysseas was founded together with the guests-friends.
One very successful initiative has been to organise football meetings between children of locals, tourists and refugees already since 2010. “Come together and play football” is a big event, twice every season. Before the game children make a circle and with the help of translators talk about friendship, family and how life is in their countries. After the tourney we seat in smaller tables and eat together.
In 2015, during the refugee crisis, guests and tourists helped the refugees who arrived exhausted. Those days you could be easily considered as “smuggler” if you wanted to help any of the thousands of people walking from arrival coast till the town where the registration office was.
In July 2015, Daphne was arrested by the police because she was transporting women and children towards the registration centre. Her case gave the opportunity to the Greek parliament to change the law. Since then locals and tourists were able to transport refugees.
In 2018, Daphne was honoured at the “Giardino Dei Giusti Di Milano” as one of the “Righteous of Hospitality” by Gariwo, the Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide; a non-profit organisation in the service of memory.
Odysseas is an organisation financed only by donations of Lesbos friends.