Power of One: Shield of Athena offers multilingual services to abuse victims
Published Sunday, December 9, 2012 4:53PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 9, 2012 6:17PM EST
Since 1991, abused women and children in Quebec have had a lifeline thanks to the multilingual services of Shield of Athena.
Those who need help who can’t speak English or French now have a place to turn to, and it all started with the vision of one person: Melpa Kamateros.
“The desire is not only to help women, but also to inform the communities,” said Kamateros, founder of the organization, which offers its services in more than 17 languages.
“I speak English and you may speak French, but they can't access (help) because they speak neither of those languages, then there's a basic inequality of access to issues pertaining to social justice,” she said.
Shield of Athena helps level that inequality, serving those in need – and many are in need.
There are 17,000 cases of conjugal violence in Quebec every year, and they need assistance said resources said Betty Petropoulos of Shield of Athena.
“We can give them information; information based on their rights, on the law, on their children, on youth protection, on immigration,” she said.
Volunteers like Dr. Banafcheh Hejazi lend a helping hand.
“I have so much respect for Melpa and the organization. I think they're doing a great job,” said Hejazi. “This is a problem that is underdiagnosed.”
Employees say they admire Kamateros for the courage it took to plant this initiative and help it grow.
“She came at a time where people were very resistant to listening, to her telling people that this is a problem in your community. People didn't want to listen to her,” said Petropoulos. “I see Melpa as a visionary.”
Kamateros said her passion is fuelled by every individual story, aiming to break the cycle of violence and abuse against women.
“We had women coming up to us and saying, ‘I'm not crazy. You gave me the definition of what I'm living. I am a victim of family violence,’” she said.
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