For many years Dina, founder of Community House Damaris and the gifted mother of three boys, worked as a volunteer serving victims of trafficking in some of the 300 brothels of downtown Athens. During this time, she realized that something more was necessary. The girls she met had little hope of escaping their situation since they were largely without families, personal papers, money, language proficiency, or the skills needed to find a job outside of a brothel. For seven years, she prayed for the opportunity to give them something more.
Dina had a vision of an organization that would become Community House Damaris – a place where girls in the brothels could live in safety while learning the emotional and practical skills that would enable them to eventually live on their own and thus re-integrate into society. She evaluated models of such kind of programs in North America and visited a number of them.
Finally, she adopted the program of SA Foundation in Canada because of its depth, its length, and its results in the lives of the participants. She further invited seven women who embraced her vision to form the legal body of Community House Damaris. Thus, in March 2016 Community House Damaris was established as a nonprofit organization. “Damaris” was the Athenian woman who was converted to Christianity after apostle Paul preached in Athens.
In March 2016 the vision became a reality, as a suitable house was found which was fully renovated and equipped in order to host the Hospitality and Day Program participants, as well as the organization’s offices. The Day Program started in April 2016 and in May the first participants moved into the house.
Since then, Community House Damaris has grown impressively. More participants joined its programs and considerable space needs were created. Thus, in March 2017, the offices and the Day Program were transferred to a new, larger building on 294 Mesogeion Street, Cholargos, Athens, Greece, where they currently operate.
Community House Damaris continues to carry out its mission with compassion and respect for human dignity and value.
The following is a breakdown of activities since opening our doors as of April 15, 2016- Dec 30, 2017
- 11 women have joined the program
- 4 babies have been born to women in the program
- 13 children have had mothers with program involvement
- 1 of the 11 women were program repeaters, one time
- 2 of the 11 women were emergency placements only, staying less than 30 days
- 7 of the remaining 9 women have demonstrated a significant commitment to recovery, thus providing a 78% success rate.
As of January 2018, 1 of our participants finished the program. At present, there is 1 woman participating in Phase I of the Day Program. There are 5 women in Phase II (one who was already there and three who just started). Each one of them is working on her own Job Training and new independence.