Marlene Hoehle Schild

FILOXENIA in Kryoneri Korinthias (Peloponnese)

The association FILOXENIA – Intercultural-Environmental Organization – was founded in 1995. It combines many years of intercultural experience with educational work in the fields of ecology, history and politics.
FILOXENIA participated in numerous European and national programs and youth trainings and provided know-how transfer and support for youth structures in Greece.
The association is based in the rural mountain community of Kryoneri Korinthias, to the southwest of Corinth. There is also the hostel and conference house “Elisson” located, where international work camps and seminars take place.

Kryoneri became internationally known when residents of the village where honored as “Righteous Among the Nations” by the Israeli Embassy in 2018. During the German occupation, villagers hid a Jewish family from Athens in their houses and in a nearby cave. FILOXENIA has set itself the task of remembering this history and has reopened the access to the cave via hiking trails.
Important to mention is the well connected lively village community. There is a cultural association, a youth club, an olive oil cooperation and a variety of activities, such as mountain biking for children and youngsters in the area.

Activities for Volunteers:

Development of the Website “Memory Alive”
Documenting the Role of the Greek Resistance in Rescuing Jews during the German Occupation 1941-1944
Maintenance of hiking trails in the area leading to the cave where a Jewish family was hidden in 1943-1944
Digitization of the village archive
Support of FILOXENIA and the hostel “Elisson” (in terms of content and housekeeping activities)
Work in the youth club
Community work – participation in events

Requirements:

The inhabitants of the village are really friendly and open-minded, so the volunteer should be communicative and not shy about meeting new people. The work with FILOXENIA can be manifol. The association is small and does not have a lot of members, which is why a lot of activities happen on a voluntary basis.
The volunteer should be practically oriented, enjoy landscaping and housekeeping activities and at the same time be interested in educational programs and content development.

Report by the ASF volunteers Anne Dahlhoff and Leon Kesper who are working in Kryoneri (1.09.22-31.08.23):

Leon Kesper and Anne Dahlhoff with an israeli couple hiking to the cave.

ένα θερμό χαιρετισμό 

A warm welcome – That’s how it felt for Leon and me when we first arrived in Kryoneri. Not only by the summer temperatures, but also by the people and the environment. Leon (18) is from Dortmund. My name is Anne (18) and I am from Essen, Germany. Together we are in Greece with the German organization Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste (ASF). ASF also calls their voluntary services “peace services”. Their work is based on solidarity with their partners in Europe, USA, Israel and Great Britain. They support peace and respect for human rights.

Here in Kryoneri, we work together with the Organisation „FILOXENIA“, that has many years of intercultural experience in educational work in the fields of ecology, history and politics.
Leon and I have a project based on Memory. During the nationalism, a Jewish family was hid in Kryoneri by the community. Every time German soldiers came to the village, the family hid in a cave nearby. Today, tourists can visit the cave. Leon and I guide them through the mountains and beautiful hiking trails to the cave. Clara, a short term volunteer and I were able to join a hiking group from Corinth for a day hike in the bush. The people were open-minded and fun to be around. 

In the morning, we usually work in the office on different topics. Together, we improved the Matsani Website, which represents the village itself. We translated the greek information into an English version. Therefore, the website becomes more transparent for a wider audience. Leon also works together with an IT Expert and updates the website regularly. 

Additionally, we use the time in the morning to prepare activities and games for the youth in the village. I created games, which are played in our weekly Tandem lessons. Every Tuesday and Thursday, teenagers between 12 and 14 come to the Youth Center to learn English and German. At the same time, we can improve our greek skills. 

Furthermore, we painted the stairs at the office as well as old cupboards. Although we had some challenging moments, we enjoyed the variety and distraction. In the end, we were proud of the results and can now walk our own painted stairs every day. As a group, we restored and painted the school walls. Leon did graffiti and Clara and I repainted old drawings. 

At the beginning of November, we helped an acquaintance of the village with the olive harvest. It was interesting to learn about the harvesting process and the hard work involved, as well as about the problems caused by climate change. We were exhausted after two days of work. Depending on how many olives can be harvested, the workers need several weeks. At the end we tasted fresh olive oil itself, with bread and a good pinch of salt. 

Max, another long term volunteer in Kryoneri and I give standard dance lessons once a week. Max is the experienced one and I always learn the dances just before the next lesson. I always wanted to learn standard dance, and now I can learn and teach at the same time. I also offer table tennis once a week. This is also fun for me, because I can be active myself and connect with more people from the village. 

Leon has soccer training twice a week with local team called Aetos Kryoneri. There, he gets to know many young people from the village and can improve his language skills. On the weekend, he always has a game. So far, they have always been friendly matches, and in mid-November the real season starts. Leon and I go to Pilates and Aerobic twice a week together with the other volunteers. Our Trainer Anna is excellent at her job and knows how to push us to our physical limit. Most of the time we have sore muscles on the following days, but we enjoy it anyway. 

In our free time we normally try to do trips around the country, relax on the veranda, sing and dance together, play chess, watch a movie together or spend an evening at the local tavern.

At the beginning of our time we had greek lessons once a week with the president of FILOXENIA, Katerina, and now continue practicing with a local every Wednesday during office work. Panos, the manager and general person in charge as well as Sia, our mentor, help us with our program and always try to get the best out of us. 

We are very thankful for the experiences we made so far and are looking forward to upcoming projects, interesting encounters and unforgettable experiences. 

Report by the first ASF volunteer Marlene who is working in Kryoneri (1.09.21-31.08.22):

An important concern of FILOXENIA is that this story shouldn’t be forgotten and that it should receive more attention outside the region, on which my activities are based to a large extent. The main task of my voluntary service is to develop the websites “Matsani” and “Memory Alive”, on which I document the history of the village and the civil courage of the villagers.
In order to obtain the necessary information, I have access to different text sources and also the great opportunity to speak with contemporary witnesses or their descendants. Most of the time I work independently but I can always contact the person in charge if I have any questions.

During the first two months, I mainly worked on small translations on the website “Matsani”, which represents Kryoneri as a whole village with all leisure activities, clubs and restaurants.
At the moment, my focus is on capturing Kryoneri’s moving story and its background on this website. In the course of the year, I will also report on various projects in which volunteers deal with the occupation in Greece.

Another part of my service is the digitization of the village archive, which contains documents that are more than 100 years old. And I also take care of the development and maintenance of the hiking trails that lead to the cave where the Kamhi family hid temporarily.

Almost every day I meet the youngsters from the region– in groups of two, we exchange cultural differences and everyday situations in English, German or Greek and learn languages in a playful way together. A “language tandem encounter” takes about an hour and is prepared by me.

In addition, I plan various leisure activities and events for young and old inhabitants of Kryoneri together with other volunteers.
In Kryoneri there are regular international exchange projects, which intensively liven up the village and are a cultural enrichment. The Hostel Elisson is an important place of contact for volunteers and offers space for encounters of all kinds. My colleagues and I also stay here.

Now during the summer my everyday life changes a bit. Besides working in the office, I spend a lot of time with the groups and youth exchange programs that come to Kryoneri. Most of the time this is connected with showing them the Karamanos Cave or talking to them about historical and cultural topics. I am looking forward to every new group that arrives because I get to know the most different people and it always remains varied. Apart from that, the other volunteers and I offer various leisure activities for the young people from the village, such as painting a wall, tie dying or different kind of sports.
During my free time I really enjoy to swim in the Gulf of Corinth or to explore Greece.”

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