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The Patriarch of Alexandria visits the "Marianna V. Vardinoyannis-ELPIDA" Children's Oncology Unit

The Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II ,while on a visit to Greece, visited the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis-ELPIDA Children's Oncology Unit to give his blessings and good wishes to the children being treated there.

The Chairwoman of the ELPIDA Association of Friends of Children with Cancer, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, was there to welcome him, show him around the Hospital's facilities, and brief him on the progress of the work being carried out by the Association: "Your presence here," Mrs. Vardinoyannis said, addressing the Patriarch, "is a very special and symbolic event for all of us, during these holy days of the Christmas season, that fills our hearts with hope for a happy and blessed new year for the children being treated here and their families. We draw strength from you because we follow your virtuous work and the struggle you wage every day at the Patriarchate of Alexandria in order to stand by the side of thousands of our fellow humans in African countries, to disseminate the teachings of Christianity over rugged land and often uder arduous conditions, as well as to promote Greek civilization and Greek history... As Greeks, we are proud that the Patriarchate of Alexandria has preserved its glory and its historic presence in Egypt throughout the centuries, and today we feel especially fortunate to have you here with us, offering us encouragement... In gratitude of your support, we would like to present you with the ELPIDA honorary plaque which we give to our supporters and benefactors. Also, as a memento of your visit here, allow me to offer you a symbolic gift from our Association. On behalf of the entire ELPIDA family, I wish you health and strength in carrying out your important work in this coming year..."

As he received the plaque and gift offered to him by Mrs. Vardinoyannis, the Patriarch of Alexandra, visibly moved, said:"A big thank you to our Lady, our friend from way back, our Marianna. I have come here with much love, our Lady, to offer you a big thank you. I have not only come here to visit ELPIDA [hope] but to take hope myself, because I am leaving for Zimbabwe... A week ago, humanity bid farewell to a great leader, Nelson Mandela. Whenever I visited Johannesburg I would meet with him. Even though he was an old man, he would always see me. He would hold my hand and tell me stories. Last time we met, he said 'Please, white angel, don't forget Africa's children. Do something for them; for the children suffering from AIDS.' I saw his face beaming and, dearest Marianna, I felt Ι was being entrusted with something. And so, in his memory, we founded at the Patriarchate a big organization to deal with AIDS... Standing by my side in this organization will be – who else? – our Lady, Marianna Vardinoyannis. The second thing for which I would like to thank our Lady is our agreement that if during my travels in the vast continent of Africa I should come across cases of children who have to be treated, then I know that there will always be a bed for them here; that they will always be welcomed by ELPIDA. Thirdly, as you know, we inaugurated two museums, the Byzantine one and the Grecoroman one, because the past of the Patriarchate is our glorious history. At Saint George, which we will be inaugurating next year, which is the only rotonda of the East, there was a large vacant space. Mr. Khouri made a donation in memory of his wife, towards founding a hospital for Egypt's poor. This institution will receive either mothers bringing their children into the world, or people who are sick, or people who are injured. A large section of this hospital will be named ELPIDA in honor of our great Lady, Mrs. Vardinoyannis. It will be based in Cairo... It'll be like a drop of love and gratitude for all you do for the most beautiful creatures on earth – children... And you can be sure that on the difficult journeys of loneliness and struggle, my heart will be filled with hope because I love you and I come here today to take this strength and to continue my struggle and say: God will provide! I wish all of you health and happiness and Merry Christmas."

Also present at the Children's Oncology Unit during the visit by the Patriarch of Alexandria were Metropolitan George of Guinea and Conakry; the Director of the Aghia Sophia Children's Hospital, Mr. Emmanouel Papasavvas; the Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, Dr. Stelios Grafakos; as well as ELPIDA Board membersMesdames Georgina Ellina, Melina Daskalaki, Ino   Konstantopoulou, Ekaterini Metaxotou, Alina Mineta, Rita Pikrou-Moraitaki, Becky Stravelaki, Ellie Tzanetatou and Ketty Filippidou, as well as the Director of the ELPIDA Guesthouse, Mrs. Anna Panagopoulou.