Aris Kamarotos www.ariscamarotos.com
Greek Actress Theodora Voutsa
Theodora Voutsa is a Greek actress and producer. Over the years she has starred in six television series and participated in numerous films including "The Free Diver" directed by Alki David with Adam Baldwin, Camilla Rutherford and Judd Nelson.
Voutsa has also acted on stage in Athens in plays by such greats as Moliere, Shakespeare, Wilde and Coward. She had the honor of performing in Epidaurus and Irodion in Ancient Greek Theaters with the National Theatre of Northern Greece.
This Jane-of-all-trades also recently published a book about her famous father called, “Thoughts of My Father.” Her father, Costas Voutsas, has been an actor for over 63 years and is considered a Greek living legend.
Voutsa is currently living in Rome where she is working with the English Theatre of Rome and the Independent English Theatre. She has just completed filming the movie “il Tour di Davide” directed by Nicola Sersale.
Interview Conducted Via Email By: Giacinta Pace
Q: What is your charity and how did you get involved?
Theodora: To Hamogelo or "Child's Smile" is a voluntary, non-profit organization. Their main concern is to defend the rights of children not only in theory but in practice 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. [They also] ensure [the] necessary means for their [the children's] physical, mental and spiritual balance.
The organization supports children who [have] disappeared, children in hospitals and children being taken advantage of. They help the children by taking them into the organization's "houses" or medical units and offering them social and psychological support.
To Hamogelo partners internationally with other organizations, governmental or non-governmental, with similar goals and values. Through it's participation with the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children (MCE), To Hamogelo has the ability to work with other European organizations toward the goals of eliminating sexual and psychological abuse of children and identify missing children across Europe.
To Hamogelo is also a member of the Board of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), working with the other members, including the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to find solutions and implement programs worldwide to eliminate the phenomena of extinction and exploitation of minors. An example of this worldwide action at work is the promotion and processing of data on the international missing children website - www.missingkids.com.
Q: Why is this charity important to you?
Theodora: To Hamogelo is very important to me because it helps children! [Children are] members of our community who can not take care of themselves and are forgotten by our society. I could go into the cliches, children are our future etc...but words like these do not count if you haven't seen a child being helpless looking around for someone to hold on to. That is what To Hamogelo does.
Psychologists say that our personality is formed [during] the first 7 years of our lives, and what we see and learn through these 7 years will guide. Where will an abandoned, sexually abused, mistreated child be guided to? To Hamogelo offers not only emotional support, but security, by taking these children and putting them in the houses the organization has created [and] giving them books, food and warmth.
To Hamogelo is often there, where it is needed, near the children, even before the government organizations. Their work is very important. Especially now, during a very difficult time for Greece and many other European countries, where cuts are occurring everyday in the social structure.
This organization is not government funded. It relies " the kindness of strangers". I was first approached by Mr. Gianopoulos, their president, to help them out as a comedian in a TV marathon they were organizing to raise funds. I got to know this man and his vision and continued helping them in any way I could. Mr. Gianopoulos had a son who died at the age of 10. His son's last wish was to help other children. Mr. Gianopoulos quit his job and sold everything to make his son s dream come true, and created To Hamogelo Tou Paidiou.
Q: Why should celebs support charities?
Theodora: As mentioned before, because of the crisis, because of taxes, because of cuts in funds and people dealing with major issues, charities seem to come last on the list, or not even get on the list. Celebrities should support these organizations and be their link to the world. Artists should hold the mirror up and tell people, "Look, if you do not like what you see you have the power to change it, and this is how..." All we need is someone to take the first step and the rest will follow.