The Athens-based NGO METAdrasi – Action for Migration and Development has won the 2019 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize for its work supporting refugees, migrants and unaccompanied children in Greece.
The $2 million award, widely considered the world’s largest humanitarian prize, recognizes nonprofit organizations judged to have made “extraordinary contributions” toward alleviating human suffering.
METAdrasi officially received its prize during the Hilton Foundation’s award ceremony in Los Angeles, California on October 18.
Lori Pappa, the organization’s CEO and founder, thanked the foundation as well as the panel of jurors while praising the accomplishments of her team (watch her full acceptance speech at the bottom of this article).
“METAdrasi, a grassroots organization, established nine years ago, became the local organization that from the start tried to bring in innovative practical solutions to respond quickly to essential and urgent needs of refugees — and especially children,” Pappa said. “With commitment and ignoring the naysayers, we often had to take a plunge into deep waters, making the impossible possible…”
Hilton Foundation President and CEO Peter Laugharn called METAdrasi a “remarkable example” and “nimble organization” that provides valuable services.
“It is our hope that by honoring METAdrasi with the 2019 Hilton Humanitarian Prize today, we can share with the international community the inspiring accomplishments of this extraordinary organization,” Laugharn said. “We also seek to apply to our own work — and our own communities — some of the approaches they have modeled for us so well, not the least of which is humility, perseverance and a steadfast hope in the future we all desire.”
METAdrasi joins the list of 23 previous organizations that have received the Hilton Prize, including Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO); International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b); the Task Force for Global Health and Landesa, among others.
Founded in 2010, METAdrasi aims to facilitate the reception and integration of refugees, migrants and unaccompanied children. The organization fills gaps in areas not covered, or covered only to a limited extent, by public authorities or other NGOs.
With its network of hundreds of trained social workers and interpreters, METAdrasi has become active throughout Greece, where it escorts refugee children from detention centers or unsafe conditions to proper accommodation facilities.
The organization has escorted approximately 11,000 children during 4,000 escorting missions. According to the latest statistics, 40% of the missions involve escorting children from Greek islands to the mainland. 41% of the escorted children come from detention centers, 36% from hotspots in the islands and 8% from homelessness.
METAdrasi has also expanded its services to include legal support, certification of victims of torture, education, integration and a safety net to protect unaccompanied minors.
UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency, estimates that more than 80,000 refugees and migrants remain stranded in Greece — and that more than 4,100 of them are unaccompanied children.
The two charities collaborated this past summer during a month-long service program in which the Greek America Foundation sent 16 young adult volunteers from North America to support METAdrasi’s work on the island of Chios.
Watch Lora Pappa’s acceptance speech
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