The Carders - Keeping their promise

The Carders - Keeping their promise

A promise made to the patients at the Paladio Clinic in Athens, Greece, was kept as Stephen and Rosemary Carder of the Clonsilla congregation in Dublin visited again this year, for the second time since their mission in that area.

They had been called to serve as the first Humanitarian Aid missionaries to Greece back in 2013. They took a year out from their employment and prepared themselves to leave. Recalling her reaction when the eagerly anticipated letter came from the Church, Rosemary says “I didn’t want to serve in a holiday destination; I wanted to go where we would be really needed!”

However, after arriving in Athens she realized that what lay ahead of them was going to be anything but a holiday. The refugee crisis was already taking hold and they worked with many organisations in order to help those who were affected by displacement.

They were able to work with a multitude of charities on the ground including the Salvation Army both in Athens and Thessaloniki, the Red Cross in Cyprus, the SOS Children’s Village, Caritas, the S/N Foundation, the Metropolitan Clinic, Mother Teresa’s Soup Kitchen, Melon House, Friends of the Homeless, the Archangel Michael Hospice, Cyprus, Avlona Juvenile Detention Centre, Church of Christ, the Hellenic Ministries and the Hatzikyrakio Orphanage in Piraeus.

These were vital projects designed to help relieve the suffering caused by homelessness, imprisonment and dislocation.

But perhaps the circumstance, which affected them most profoundly, was the plight of 220 mentally and physically challenged patients at the Paladio Clinic in Athens. Rosemary recalls, “I couldn’t speak the first time we entered the building that was home to these unfortunate, forgotten people. We sat outside and cried, asking Heavenly Father to help us to help them. Our prayers were answered when the Doctor in charge allowed us to visit every week. Our missionaries and members came laden with gifts and food at Christmas and we all felt the Spirit as the missionaries sang hymns in Greek that told the story of the Saviour’s birth.”

During their weekly visits, the Carders taught arts and crafts classes, supplied much needed furniture, and also worked on a ‘Helping Hands’ project which involved planting a garden. They regularly brought along cookies that they had baked as a ‘treat’ to add to the very bland diet available in the clinic.

Rosemary’s hairdressing skills were also utilised and each week she would have a queue of ‘clients’ expectantly awaiting her arrival!

A great love developed between the Carders and the people whose home was the Paladio Clinic. As the end of their mission approached, Nicos, one of the patients asked them “When will you be back?”

“Next year!” was the instant response from Brother and Sister Carder who promised to return again soon.