Tereza Lyssiotis, Field Director Greece
Raquel: «I remember exactly in which section of the beach of Lesvos I stood in January 2016, when someone slipped Tereza's phone number into my hand. I was supposed to ask if in Athens she could use some of the many shoes we had received. Tereza and I subsequently had several such phone calls. Then, when I was in Athens for a few days in April, I suggested a meeting. This first meeting on a nice spot in the old town turned into a friendship and finally the wonderful collaboration.
Tereza has integrity through and through and with her expertise she builds the stable bridge between our work in Greece and that in Switzerland.»
This is how Tereza introduces herself:
I have obtained a BA and an MSc in Political Studies (London School of Economics and Brandeis University, Massachusetts, US). After working for close to a decade as a journalist in my home country Cyprus I moved to Greece. Fifteen years in public relations and project management followed, coupled with various challenges but also with forging of strong friendships. One of those friendships led me in Fall 2015 to what I used to call “the enchanted island” marked on the map as Lesvos. It was there that I witnessed the repercussions of war and strife, in the eyes of people who were discovering that their entry into the European Continent did not imply protection and safety but rather another stage of insecurity and hardship.
Involvement with SAO
At the time that the refugee numbers in Greece soared and locals were fast to respond to a humanitarian crisis that the country was not prepared to manage I joined a group of volunteer women at an Athens camp for displaced families who committed every second of their free time to support in any way they could.
When it was time to return to a paid job, I realised it did not make sense any more to pick up where I had left from. Five years later I am still here, always with SAO, and fervently convinced that there are many ways to show we respect the women we assist. One of the reasons for my commitment is more important than others:
Our services should be of the same quality as the services we believe we are entitled to receive ourselves. Just like our human rights are the same as the human rights of the women who seek refuge at the SAO Day Centres for Displaced Women.
This common understanding is the driving force behind the efforts of all staff and volunteers and it is the reason why working for SAO Association makes sense as much as my wish that there will be a day when we are not needed anymore. But until then it is comforting to know that SAO intends to be present and active in the lives of the women who have chosen to trust us.