Stamatis Mavronas From Corfu Helps The Serbs
A Greek With a Big Heart
At a time when wealthier Serbs go to Corfu, an inhabitant of this island heads the other way to help the unfortunate Serbs. Last week, Stamatis Mavronas, a Greek customs officer, and his son Hristos brought a truckful of medicines and sanitary equipment to the hospitals in Belgrade and Krushevats.
The agile Greek hadn’t waited for the cooperation of the humanitarian organisations – he did the whole thing on his own. He had been stashing away his money and then he recruited a few of his countrymen. That’s how the humanitarian aid arrived in Yugoslavia.
- "I love Serbia and I want to help your people. It’s my father’s influence. He used to tell me a lot of stories about the history of this country. I inquired about what’s needed and…here I am. I don’t have much but I am doing the best I can to help", says Mavronas.
That Stamatos and Hristos’ help doesn't only consist of medicines, we find out in the Obradovich family house, in Krushevats. The family is playing host to Stamatis and Hristos.
- "Our kids go to Corfu every summer and Stamatis takes them on excursions all over the island, spends lots of time with them and makes sure their stay in Greece is an unforgettable one", says Spomenka Obradovich whose sons spent a summer on Corfu.
Now it’s time to return the favour. The young Obradovichs reminisce about a party Stamatis threw in celebration of one Serbian girl and add that he also financially helped a Serbian girl, refugee from Croatia. Now way you can count all the good deeds of this Greek Serbophile.
- “The Greek Orthodox Church is currently collecting new medicines, food, clothes and school stuff (pencils, pens, erasers, binders, notebooks…) for our friends in Serbia. The problem is logistics. Going by bus is dangerous because we’d have to go through Macedonia”, says Mavronas.
Mavronas also ran into problems while delivering this aid – he had trouble with air tickets and the medicine shipment Customs clearing.
Luckily, Beba Milich, a Serbian woman who works on Corfu, provided free transport and dr. Slavko Simeunovich, a cardiologist, made sure that the medicines went through. Mavronas expresses his gratitude.
We have to mention Doctor Alexandros Mastoras who, during the aggression, sent an aid shipment worth 50.000 Deustschemarks. Sadly, the aid never reached Serbia, it’s never been found, and the doctor was very sad that the aid wasn’t there when it was needed.
After ten days spent in Yugoslavia, during which they visited Mt. Kopaonik, Nish, Vrnyachka Banya, and Serbian monasteries, Stamatis and Hristos are overwhelmed by Serbia and its people. They say they expected to see the ruins NATO left behind but everything looks better than they’d imagined.
- “Your people know how to survive when the situation is unbearable. Kids are the mirror of a nation. Serbian kids are very open and friendly and it’s no wonder my son always spends his time with Serbs, even though the Camp on Corfu is international in its nature”, concludes Mavronas.
During the NATO aggression, American soldiers came to Corfu. Otherwise friendly islanders organized a welcoming party that "the Yankees" will remember forever. Serbian tricolours were hanging from every window and no store or supermarket wanted to serve the Americans.
- “One American wanted to shake my hand but I told him I didn’t want to get my hands dirty”, says Mavronas.
- “American tourists who were here at the time watched the bombing raids, appalling destruction brought upon Serbia and deaths it had caused. It was on our TV. They were disgusted. When they went back home, the media there convinced them that nothing of the sort had happened, that it was all a set-up; a montage if you will”, Mavronas says.