Greeks have repeatedly proven their solidarity with their fellow-citizens after major disasters.

Even during the deep, protracted economic crisis, that solidarity front, often including people who were not well off, did not wane. It remained strong and reflected the country’s social cohesion.

Recently, we experienced the case of the fire-stricken in Evia and of those who were devastated by the earthquake in Arkalohori, Crete.

In the case of Arkalohori (photo), we witnessed something very peculiar. Along with all the materials that were sent, the residents found that there were irrelevant objects [including carnival costumes, high-heel shoes, and even a wedding dress] that have nothing to do with the concept of solidarity.

This raises two issues.

The first concerns the individual responsibility of citizens who decide to participate in an assistance network. Our suffering fellow citizens are not a repository for useless things. They are experiencing very difficult conditions. Respect and attention must be paid.

The second issue is the need for better organisation in receiving humanitarian aid, and everyone can contribute to that. Municipalities, regions, social services, and even the interior ministry can assist in this. A humanitarian bridge must be built with essential and solid materials in order to achieve the desired result.

Let the above cases be cause for a further “institutionalisation” of initiatives and of a rethinking of the way we view solidarity.