In the morning we visited Attiki Honey to find out how the company not only packages honey, but also creates three distinct blends of honey as well as coaching the apiaries from which they buy honey in the best techniques to produce the best product.
We then visited a place called Margarita:
Margarita was founded in 1978 by a mother whose daughter was challenged by Downs Syndrome. Only hall the school’s funding is subsidized by the state; the rest of the funding must be raised through private donations and grants.
The school’s purpose is to assist mentally challenged individuals in finding jobs in the open market and learning basic life skills such as hygiene and simple meal preparation so that they can make the best possible lives for themselves with the most dignity possible.
Students enter at age 14 or 15 and though many only stay 5 or 6 years, some stay into their 40’s.
We met a good number of the students in our visit learning to weave, make copies, jewelry, cook, etc. One thing stood out to me: Wherever we went people who do not know how to lie lit up with appreciation for the people guiding us through this remarkable facility.
Meeting Katy, who has decided to learn Greek after growing up in Britain and only coming to Athens after losing her father and Murto whose day was complete in the simple action of giving some one else a hug and telling a portion of her day…these were incredible experiences illuminating the incalculable importance of providing a place in our world for people who do not know what it means to be bitter of grow old.
One of the original students of the school graduates this year at the age of 50.
The government funding for the school has been frozen because of the financial crisis currently shredding the economy of Greece and the staff has not been able to be paid since February of this year, but – yet – they are still here.
Upon leaving Margarita, we went to the mountain where much of the marble that graced the Acropolis and other monuments in ancient Greece was taken from. On the top of this revered mountain is a monastery of great age noted for its focus upon education – even when education of common people was forbidden. There is a secret school underground and under the “modern” church. The tiny chapel of St. Stephen, also underground, was the site of many generations of marriages and christenings.
We board a night boat to Crete after dinner…