Reclaiming the Dream-How it all began


I am a teacher  and a first generation immigrant to the United Kingdom. I came here from Greece in 1973, as a teenager and stayed.  I have been very lucky in lots of different ways.  I have been able to acquire a great education,  have two beautiful daughters, indulge my interests and grow professionally, work in both creative and academic contexts and make some amazing physical and emotional journeys.  I have also been blessed with the love and friendship of  wonderful friends.   I am now preparing for another adventure.  The adventure of reclaiming my culture, being part of it, on my terms, and in the process giving back something of value.

During a period of life changing events,  I  realised that I had neglected my dreams, put them on hold, considered them impossible, left them for another day.  Many things contributed to this, but to cut a long story short,  in the Winter of 2008 and Spring of 2009, I began to focus on what mattered, and  looked beyond my preoccupations with professional  and work related matters.  And so the adventure began, an adventure long dreamed of, but seldom really seriously  tackled.  I felt that I could give something back to a part of the island of my birth. The idea is really quite simple: to look at ways of restoring substantial parts of a village, and more importantly, to improve the lives of the elderly residents, in a beautiful but neglected part of Crete.  This website aims to set the scene and  describe the process.

Being Greek is a privilege and a burden.  The weight of history  bears down heavily on many of us, who find ourselves 'representing' our culture to people who have little knowledge of modern Greece, its struggles, halted growth, pain and umbilical connection with the long and chequered history of its neighbours.My story is probably quite typical of young boy wanting to conform and assuming the host culture's perceptions of who he is.  It is no great tragedy, only a fact and one that is neither pitiful nor laudable.

In the summer of 2008, an Italian academic on visiting Greece with me, made me see it as a beautiful country full of natural wonders and of amazing achievements. Dr. Marmo helped me to see Greece from the point of view of another native Mediterranean , not from a northern European perspective, as I had been accustomed to  doing, for so long.  It was a revelation, and I returned back to England revitalised and proud that I had still some roots in that part of the world, and what is more, those roots could take hold.  I also started to see that I could be forgiven for having neglected my past, I could be welcomed home, as the prodigal son that had left and had chosen not to look back.  For this and her intellectual sharpness and inspirational bravery, I will be for ever grateful.

I had thought about buying a house in Greece, a small piece of 'home', and had looked around on previous visits.  It was the combination of events described above however, that helped me to  see that living there could be more than I had thought.  Something made me realise that going back would be going forward, in my own life.  It came from the heart, not the intellect. 

I must say that without faith, none of the above would have come together as they have.  Somehow, my tentative belief in God, academic, forced and inconsistent, has become something of great value in my life.  I have began to believe, really believe in the existence of something far greater within my life and ultimately within me. Reconciling my faith with the inequalities and vagaries of the real world has not been easy. I have been helped in this by the unwavering faith of my sister, Rita Aktypis, who has always nourished my life. Alongside her faith, my brother's wisdom  and humour have been  inspirational. Nikos makes me feel that I have a real family back in Crete.

I have been further inspired  by Nick Vujicic, a man who has achieved great things despite the most incredible physical limitations, and I will always be grateful to him and his infectious faith and perseverance.  The video on this web site will appear incongruous to the visitor, but his powerful message, I hope will more than justify its inclusion.

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