Greetings fellow Hellenes, my name is George Amigdalos. I am a Greek American from the Island of Chios. I am currently living in Orange, Connecticut. I was born in New York but was raised in Greece. As an adult I have lived here in the US but also in Greece.
In 2010 while living in Greece I joined a volunteer fire department on the island of Chios. The work we do to protect the island from wildfires is essential to the ecosystem of Chios, especially because of a specific plant that gives a special meaning to the Chian flora: the so-called mastic tree. This amazing evergreen tree, is uniquely grown on this island and, although mastic plants grow in many places on the island and other parts of the world, it is systematically cultivated in the 21 mastic villages of southern Chios.
Today mastic is protected by the EEC and guaranteed by the program for the protection of trade names (P.O.P.). Apart from its medicinal properties and cosmetic and culinary uses, mastic gum is also used in the production of high-grade varnish. Furthermore, mastic is also essential to myron, the holy oil used for Chrismation by the Orthodox Churches.
Mastic was the main product responsible for the economic and social development of the Chian people for a long period and up to the present. Today, almost 5.000 families earn a significant portion of their income by cultivating the mastic and exporting it.
In the summer of 2012, a large fire burned over 90 percent of the mastic trees at the villages of Lithi, Elata and Vessa, while a large number of mastic trees were burned at the villages of Mesta, Armolia and Pyrgi.
Again in 2016 two large fires had a catastrophic effect on the Mastic trees. Our team of volunteers have several small fire trucks and a supply tanker in our possession. We work in conjunction with the Hellenic fire department to assist in extinguishing fires during the fire season, and also assist in other emergencies such as earthquake disaster, floods and rescue missions. We are a fully functional, professionally trained and competent volunteer fire fighting unit.
Our team is made up of about 100 people, male and female. We all try to do our part for the group to survive. There are however issues with funds. Due to the extreme economic crisis the country is going through for the past several years and with no end in sight, it is difficult for us to raise money with our usual fundraising endeavors. Help from our Hellenic brothers and sisters, especially from the diaspora is key to funding some goals we have.
We are in need of some hose clamps, some hose back packs and fire hoses. I have provided links below with pictures and description as to what these are. Any help, however small or large will be greatly appreciated and be put to great use. If your organization is not able to help, maybe the GoFundMe link can be shared with the your friends & family.
I am trying to reach out to the Hellenic community of the world for help. This is a huge undertaking. A big goal that will probably take a while to accomplish. This would provide us with the funds we need for the 2017 fire season and then some. Funds will also be used to buy equipment which will be donated to other volunteer firemen and departments in other parts of Greece.
I will be going to Chios in the summer of 2017 and I am hoping to be able to bring some supplies that we need.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter and may God bless you.
Our Facebook page
Links to the supplies we need:
Link to a fire tuck that is needed: