Interview conceded to Maria Chondrogianni
“My vision behind the launching of the “Rhodes for Life” association has been to bring forward those timeless values the local community has forever harbored. I personally have no doubt that these values are part of the cultural capital of this land,an asset that we, citizens, have a duty to serve and maintain”.
As of an interview to “DIMOKRATIKI”, Mr. Savvas Savvaidis, a well-known figure in the field of real estate, elaborates on the vision that inspired him towards founding the “Rhodes for Life” non-profit organization.
“Solidarity, being of service to the community, sustaining the needy are features typical of societies governed by high value systems. Protecting the ultimate asset of health and life, as it is, is a pursuit inherent to the members of such societies. After all, who would not aspire to live and work in a place where citizens are sensitized enough to care for one another?” Mr. Savvaidis wonders.
Mr. Savvaidis stresses that such a massive show-up of citizen at last Sunday’s (1st of November) event on the Townhall Square was of no surprise to him, all the more since the local community had from the onset enthusiastically embraced his initiative.
“On the eve of the event we already knew that the target amount set at €31.734 required for the acquisition of an Ultrasound-CT-Scan Breast Imager. We were then able to file our order on the next day after the event. Delivery of the device in Rhodes should be expected in forty days from now” Mr. Savvaidis points out.
Read the full content of Mr. Savvaidis interview:
Last Sunday’s gathering was a tremendous success. Did you expect the call of Rhodes for Life association to be with so much enthusiasm amongst citizens?
Personally this came as no big surprise, this massive response on the part of the people. From the very first year, the local community had already warmly endorsed this initiative and has ever since been supporting it actively, which in turn contributed to the number of participants in last Sunday’s event reaching 9,000 up from 2,500 back in 2010.
Has that state-of-the-art medical device, the purchase of which had been the objective of the event, been acquired? Otherwise said, have the necessary funds been secured?
“On the eve of the event we already knew that the target amount set at €31 734 required for the acquisition of an Ultrasound-CT-Scan Breast Imager. We were then able to file our order on the next day after the event. Delivery of the device in Rhodes should be expected in forty days from now”.
What would you suggest be the reason why the event had such an appeal to the greater public?
I have to admit that this event had an unprecedented appeal, at the national level. It seems to have come as a pleasant surprise, on three, quite novel grounds: it has been totally autonomous and independent in its hosting and neither seeks nor has received subsidies. We never address personal invitations, even less so when it comes to “prominent” personalities, to attend. Everyone is welcome to take part as an ordinary citizen. By so doing, we have been spared the risk of making of this event a “vehicle” to the promotion of any personal or political agendas. You have perhaps realized yourself that RHODES FOR LIFE is the only event in Rhodes – may be even so in Greece, as a whole – that features no speakers! – We are moreover against the presence of any commercial messages anywhere around the venues; otherwise said, we do not go for the eventuality of the event being exploited
for “commercial purposes”. As a matter of fact, I have to credit businesses active on our island for fully respecting such policy of ours from the very first year, so that today, the total cost of materialization of the event (from bottled water to posters, music equipment, prizes etc.) is anonymously covered by entrepreneurs who are also fellow members of this community.
The purpose of the event is to secure the donation of specific medical equipment, suggested by the MDs themselves. Shortlisting of the equipment is made by reference to technical and financial criteria set by the MDs; then, once the equipment is obtained, it is ceded for use by the General Hospital of Rhodes, within two months from the date of the event. One thing is certain: no machinery is relegated to oblivion in some forgotten storage unit!
How many events of this kind have been hosted and what has to this day been your contribution to the General Hospital of Rhodes?
The first event of its kind was hosted on the 10th of October 2010 and has ever since been repeated. More specifically, the following medical devices have been donated and have since been operational at the General Hospital of Rhodes:
2011: Prostatectomy Surgical Equipment
2015: Ultrasound CT-Breast Imager.
It pays to mention that as many as 2500 testing or operation sessions have to this day been performed through such devices and some 150 potentially degenerating cancer cases have been timely diagnosed.
What was the vision upon which you embarked to found the Rhodes For Life association?
My idea was to put forward the timeless values harbored by the local community of Rhodes. I have no doubt as to the fact that such values are embedded in this land’s cultural capital, one we, citizens, should serve and help maintain. After all, solidarity, social solicitousness, the care for the needy are all features typical of societies relying on high value systems, all the more when it comes to protecting health and ultimately life, values of the utmost importance for such societies. Is there anyone who would not opt for living in a land where people are sensitized enough towards caring for one another?
Still, there must have been a particular reason that instigated you to take that initiative, back in 2010…
If my recollection is correct, it was sometime back in May 2010 when, while surfing the Internet, I came across a charity track race dubbed “Race for Life”. One of the things I was stricken by was the uniformly colored T-shirts, the broad smiles and the enthusiasm of the participants. The message conveyed through the whole picture was so positive and so optimistic the spirit, that I found that that was precisely what Rhodes needed, back in mid-2010. We all remember the negative ambience of misery and introversion the local community so vividly transpired, in the early days of the deep financial crisis. The climate was heavy and everyone felt the other was the enemy. A sad protagonist in all this negativity was the General Hospital of Rhodes, as it lacked in so many things. No wonder people felt so deeply frustrated, when even the Hospital and the city’s health services as a whole – a reflection of a community’s social image – suffered so – not to mention that all this was happening as that year’s tourist season was about to start! I therefore felt that the idea of hosting a track race – however humble in scale – might help break that vicious cycle of misery and denial as well as putting through a message of optimism and positive energy to the city itself. In the beginning, as was to be expected, that initiative, the “idea”, if you want, was met with much skepticism by most of the institutional agencies with whom I shared it, scorned as chimeric and a loss of time. Most people were quick in trying to talk me out of it, based on the presumption that the average Rhodian prefers to be unaware of the social context and more given to one’s own everyday problems. After all, more than one effort to the opposite had to that day been doomed. Still, deep within me I felt that things could not be that bad – this is the land that gave birth to us and saw us grow, in the nurturing warmth of the traditional Greek family,reared by parents and grandparents who gave us proper upbringing, without ambivalence as to what is right and what is wrong, instilling in us codes of perennial values. All it should take, therefore, would be to find a way to rekindle these values, make them heard anew! Could Rhodes For Life be the instigator of such process?
Commitment to the cause and the luck of being part of a group of people sharing the same sensitivities, the same love for our land, the same degree of enthusiasm and vision did it: each one of us encouraged the rest until we pulled up all the nerve it got to host that first event on the island’s biggest square, the Townhall Square! What we hoped for was 500 people: what eventually showed up was 2500! The rest, I guess you know.
Until now, the association’s activities have been targeted to ways of catering to deficiencies in the field of health. How come?
I believe one may only aspire at being efficient if concentrating on one main objective. We opted to concentrate our efforts on how to be of assistance to our city’s Hospital, by focusing on cancer-fighting actions, this being a field in health where one can literally save lives at a very small price. Just consider this: we are talking about equipment costing anything between €5000 and 32 000 and of which the General Hospital of Rhodes was nevertheless deprived. Besides, there are so many laudable initiatives under way on this island, launched by charismatic and genuinely voluntaristic fellow citizens, catering with the highest efficiency to several other domains of action. Such, for instance, is the case of the way our island responded to the call for volunteers to directly assist and sustain refugees, something I am definitely proud of.
Each year you seem to be setting higher standards. What will your objective be for Sunday, the 6th of November 2016?
The truth be said, in the light of this year’s success, next year’s objective could be neither humbler nor even equal! Over the next months, we will be discussing with MDs from the General Hospital and have a closer understanding what the deficiencies of the establishment are, that we might help cater to. Such is the momentum amongst our volunteers and so high the enthusiasm in the local community, vis-à-vis the event, that I may safely foresee the setting of higher standards as the only possible scenario for 2016.