Christmas "milk tree" in Athens sends message of solidarity
14 Dec 2018, 23:34 ( 6 Months ago) | updated: 15 Dec 2018, 22:10 ( 6 Months ago)
A unique Christmas tree, made up entirely of milk cans, was set up on Friday for the ninth consecutive year by the NGO "Doctors of the World" in the center of Athens.
Children and adults visited the Christmas tent of the local NGO outside the University of Athens central building, bought ornaments and participated in various activities, contributing to the collection of milk, canned food and medicine for their fellow citizens in need.
"The idea started nine years ago from a little girl who was in our office and waited to be examined. When I asked her what special present she was expecting from Santa Claus she replied a glass of milk. So we decided to make a Christmas tree of milk and this story has evolved into one of the most tender Christmas customs of the city. This year we are doing the same thing," Nikitas Kanakis, the NGO's president, told Greek national news agency AMNA.
The mini Christmas festival, which takes place every year in the second week of December, includes various artistic activities, such as painting workshops for children as well as face painting.
"We ask people to bring milk; we set up the tree together, and at the same time it is a great celebration, a party. It is also an opportunity to get to know each other and, most importantly, to remind and remember that solidarity is a beautiful thing and that children should be our priority. It is a Christmas celebration of the Doctors of the World on the road," Kanakis explained.
In its first year, the "milk tree" was adorned with 5,000 cans of milk.
Later on, as more and more people learned about the initiative, the organization collected on average more than 55,000 cans and more than four tons of other food products. This year, the organizers hope to break the record.
The Greek branch of Doctors of the World was founded in 1990. A medical humanitarian non-governmental organization, the branch is a member of Medecins Du Monde International.