Guest Speaker Aims to Build Societies of Peace

Madison Graver

On Sept. 27, Manolis Ntamparakis held a lecture in Dauch’s Ridenour Room discussing the refugee crisis in Greece and what the organization he works for does to help them. This event was just one part of the “Who is My Neighbor?” series that AU has been holding in partnership with the Center for Nonviolence.

Ntamparakis is the director of Social Action for NAOMI Ecumenical Workshop for Refugees in Thessaloniki, Greece.

He holds a Master of Divinity in Theology and Pastoral Studies from Trinity Theological Seminary in Amsterdam, and a Master of Theology in Bible Translation and Eastern Orthodox Theology from the University of Amsterdam.

NAOMI is an organization that welcomes refugees, mainly women and children, into Greece with open arms and helps them build skills that will hopefully benefit them in the future.

During the presentation, he presented various statistics about just how many refugees have been making their way to Greece in the past couple of years.

According to Ntamparakis, almost 900,000 refugees arrived in Greece in 2015. On top of that, Greece was already in a major financial crisis.

Ntamparakis also said that in 2018, Greece has the highest unemployment rate in the EU at 20%.

“The sheer amount of refugees relocating is immense,” Ntamparakis said. “But the numbers aren’t telling the whole truth. The truth is on the faces of the real people.”

According to Ntamparakis, refugee camps are being overloaded, forcing many refugees to find shelter elsewhere.

This is where organizations like NAOMI step in. They offer language classes, have textile workshops, and emergency aid for the refugees to participate in hopes of them building a skill set to utilize as they are taking refuge in Greece, he said.

Sue Dickson, Associate Professor of Religion at AU and organizer of this event, hopes that the students in attendance of the lecture “will be inspired to pray, donate, volunteer, and engage in practices that advocate for, reach out to, and help immigrants, refugees, and migrants in the U.S. and worldwide.”

She also hopes that hearing from a Greek Pastor about his work with refugees will raise awareness, expand peoples cultural horizons and inspire them to get involved, she said.

Ntamparakis said one of the main goals of the organization is to do what they can to make life better for the refugees and hopes things progress in a positive way.

For more information about NAOMI and how to get involved, please visit