NEWS AND INFORMATION

Since January 2016 we have been publishing snippets of Gaia news/information, on this page, instead of a detailed monthly review of Gaia's work. The items are roughly in date order, with the newest first.
There is more about Gaia 's work  providing for the welfare and protection of our community, in the
GAIANEWS archive.

2017

Who/What is Gaia ? A video photo collage of Gaia people and events. Whether it is reminders of events over the last few years or an introduction to what Gaia is, for people new to the area,this short video shows the many and varied ways Gaia is involved in the W Mani community, and all done by volunteers with donated money and supplies from both within Greece and from friends of Gaia in other countries ​.GAIA IN W MANI  (February 2017)

Cleaning up after transport: Since Christmas, Gaia volunteers have already had to deal with 3 fires, despite the wet weather. These were not serious, but all take their toll on equipment. Gaia's new vehicle for medical emergenct transport has also been in demand. Since the beginning of December, Gaia have been called out three times to provide emergency transport for patients, because there was no ambulance available. But the call out does not end with the transport. After the patient has been delivered safely, the vehicle has to be thoroughly cleaned - another behind the scenes job for volunteers!  kostas.xydeas  (January 2017)

2016

German supplies for Gaia arrive in Mani: The Mani friends of Colmberg, in association with Nehemiah, acted immediately and generously donated goods and money, when they heard of the devastating rainstorms in September. The spokesperson of the group, Hans Stamminger, reported that well over 100 people, even from outside the region of Colmberg, came to bring their donations for families in need, the Old peoples' Home in Gythio and GAIA. Many others made monetary donations to the groups' bank account. They collected food and clothing for the needy, toys and items for school use, as well as boots and tools for GAIA which were sent by truck to Ag. Nickolaos. Herr Stamminger and his wife were in Mani in November to help with the unpacking and distribution of the donations. Newspaper articles about the their efforts for Mani, are on our German page GAIA +NEHEMIAH One article is a report from a couple, Willy and Helga Schlund, who were in our area when the storm came down, and which lead to the appeal for donations. " We have never ever seen so much rain come down" is the headline.  (December 2016)

Putting Ist Aid Training into practice: On October 23rd Gaia volunteers were able to put theory into practice during a 1st Aid training exercise at the Gaia Base in Ag Nikolaos. The scenario was an explosion in a building which left a range of casulties from blast injuries to someone being trapped in machinery. Enthusiastic local residents were among the 'victims', and they had very realistic make up injuries, but in some cases, their smiles were a bit of a give away!. This kind of training is a vital part of Gaia's preparation for their emergency calls, when they may be faced with any kind of injury, often in difficult or dangerous situations, with medical help far away. Knowing what they can and can't do safely, and in what order, could one day, save a life. Photos on Elaine Beacher ( October 2016)

Special 1st Aid Training from Malteser : 3 qualified First Aid instructors with the Malteser organisation in Germany (relatives of Gaia volunteer Erhard Seidel, who drove the new vehicle to Mani) gave an extended First Aid course for Gaia volunteers, over three evenings in mid-September. For some, it was a refresher for others, a new course. This time it included a specific training in the use of the new vehicle for medical emergencies i.e. patient transfer to, and use of the special stretcher, and hygiene inside the vehicle. It also included a module on a rescue situation when someone, for example a climber, has fallen and is hanging in his harness, because the harness can reduce or even cut the flow of blood, leading to a lack of oxygen supply, unconsciousness or even death.   Photos in the PsM gallery Malteser International (September 2016)

Gaia fund for repairs: Gaia's work goes on, despite depleted resources, including rescuing 2 goats trapped on a cliff for 8 days! Following the huge demands on their services in recent weeks, during and after the storms and floods of Sept 6/7th, they suffered an estimated €4000 worth of damage. Some of their supplies at the Gaia base were affected, but the main problem is damaged equipment that will be expensive to repair/replace. This includes 3 pumps (€400 each ) and a hydraulic drill (€800) that need to be replaced. In order to get back to full operational readines as soon as possible, a separate repair fund for Gaia has been set up at Mani Money. The Parea sti Mani has started the appeal with €500 from website advertising money, and several upcoming events will be raising money to help Gaia. Donations can be made to the REPAIR FUND, by cash or bank transfer through Hara at Mani Money . (September 2016)

What Gaia volunteers were doing on Sept 6/7th : Their call centre received well over 100 calls for help within 24hours! Volunteers were working in extreme weather conditions pumping water from houses and boats, tying and securing boats and with divers, hauling boats which had sunk in the harbor. They managed to haul 10 cars off the beach, that had been swept away by the current. They failed with one, which sank, but retrieved it from the seabed a couple of days later, with the help of a diver and heavy hauling equipment. They pumped out 14 flooded properties, mainly in Ag Nikolaos, Stoupa and Neochori. They freed trapped animals in Ag Nikolaos, marked various danger points, dealt with 3 road accidents, including putting sawdust on an oil spill, provided assistance and telephone support to numereous people, contacted several residents who remained in their flooded homes, waiting for help, and gave them telephone support and information throughout the course of events. They also helped to co-ordinate the work of other groups active in the region. Their work continues, but The Gaia base was flooded and equipment damaged in the rescue work. A preliminary estimate of the cost to get their equiment back to full emergency readiness is € 4000 (September 2016)

New Gaia medical emergency vehicle much in demand: Despite the new vehicle still needing equiment and official paper work, it has been much in demand since it arrived. Because there was no official ambulance available, Gaia were called to help with emergency transport 8 times in August. They helped an elderly patient who had a broken hip, someone who had passed out in a restaurat, a elderly person who was unconscious because of a head injury after a fall, a tourist after a heart attack, an elderly person with breathing problems, a bather who was choking in the sea, and an obese patient with heart problems. And already by the 15th of this month, Gaia have been called to help with 5 medical emergencies, an old person who lost consciousness in the sea, an attempted suicide, a visitor who was badly injured when he fell off his bike, a couple injured in a car accident, and a student who collapsed at school in Kardamyli.(September 2016)

August - a busy month : Up to August 29th, Gaia were called out 23 times. Eight of those were to provide 1st Aid/auxilliary ambulance help for a range of emergency medical conditions$$. Seven calls were to traffic accidents including 3 on August 13th, during and after heavy rain, and a fatal tractor accident on 26th, near Riglia. Fortunately there were only a couple of minor fire calls locally, but on Aug 21/22 Gaia volunteers were among the 60 firefighters from all over the area, who spent many hours containing fire on foot, during a major fire in an inaccessible area of Taygtos, while two Canadair aircraft and a helicopter Super Puma helicopter made continuous water drops. Gaia were also called to rescue a visitor with a broken leg, help find a lost child, rescue a cat from a dry well, help an injured wild boar, and give 1st Aid to a seriously injured dog, until a vet could be found. $$ Vehicle Appeal latest (August 2016)

Night Dive Training: Anyone looking out to sea in Ag Dimitrios on the evening of August 8th, would have seen mysterious looking blue lights under the water. It was not night fishing as some people thought, but a Gaia training exercise. While it is hoped that night rescue will not be necessary, the Gaia rescue teams take 'be prepared' very seriously. They have several qualified divers amongst their volunteers, who are on call in case of emergency whether it is humans or animals that need their help. (August 2016)

What Gaia needs next: With generous support from the local community and the friends and supporters of Gaia in other countries, Gaia is well on the way to having a rescue vehicle for medical emergencies ready for use here in W Mani, and funds raised at the Panagyri**, will go a long way towards covering Gaia's running costs for the coming year . But Gaia has other major needs, and need our continuing support:-
1) Light weight protective clothing for fire-fighters: 15 of the volunteers have uniforms that were donated by the Latsis Foundation in 2010, and need replacing, 8 volunteers are having to use damaged uniforms and 9, have NO uniforms. At €300 each, this means that Gaia need at least € 6000 for clothing.
2) Replacement fire trucks:- Both fire trucks are getting old and unreliable, and need replacing. One in particular, which came from Austria in 2007 (over 40 years old!) is now in urgent need of replacement. It is slow(maximum speed 40kph) its pump is unreliable, and the brakes are poor. To get a reasonable replacement that will last a few years, will cost at least € 19,000 ( July 2016)  ** Report to follow

Help for Gaia from Bad Lippspringe fire brigade: Thanks to a contact in the very large Bad Lippspringe voluntary fire brigade near Paderborn, Germany, Gaia was able to get a new vehicle they can use for medical emergencies and rescue, with a custom stretcher, for just €2000 (worth around €10,000). The fire chief of the voluntary fire brigade in Bad Lippspringe, made contact with the the Paderborn district Fire Brigade when he heard about the ambulance being taken out of service. The Bad Lippspringe fire brigade had already donated a large quantity of protective clothing and safety equipment which was brought over to Mani in May, and a petrol driven hydraulic cutter and spreader**, used to access accident damaged vehicles where the doors are blocked and the vehicle needs to be cut open. For more on the story see feuerwehr bad lippspringe ** a vital piece of equipment whichGaia volunteers practiced using in the June car crash training exercise. (July 2016)

Gaia in Action, dealing with local emergencies : In the last 2 months (May, June 2016) Gaia was called out 18 times
FIRE 6 calls ( including 1 false alarm)
TRANSPORT FOR MEDICAL EMERGENCY 5 calls
FLOOD 2 calls
1st AID/ROAD ACCIDENT 3 calls
ANIMAL ISSUES 2 calls
At their Panagyri on July 23rd, they will be raising funds to enable them to continue helping our community. It is not just so they can be prepared for emergency incidents (see above) but also to support the many and varied ways the Gaia volunteers are involved in environmental, welfare and educational activities in the area, both on their own and and working with other local groups. (July 2016)

It's NOT real! Car crash traing exercise : On June 16th, Gaia volunteers were mobilized to deal with a horrific car crash with one car upside down on another and one on fire! People in the cars had a range of injuries caused by the crash. But it was all in the cause of training the Gaia teams to be crisis ready, and ensure the best outcome for victims, if such an event really occurs. Local people and some of the Gaia volunteers were the 'victims' and had very realistic 'injuries' created with stage make up. This exercise was part of Gaia's educational program for their volunteers, honing a range of skills for fire-fighting, rescue and 1st Aid, conducted under the supervision of officers of the Fire Service from England and Austria. For detailed pictures of the exercise see PsM gallery Car crash training exercise More photos on    Peter Rollett (June 2016)

Within a week fire and flood - BOTH AGGRAVATED BY RUBBISH! On June 3rd there was a serious fire at the huge rubbish dump that had accumulated in Stoupa. Strong winds fanned the fire, and clouds of toxic smoke spread across Stoupa. The dump had all kinds of rubbish, and explosions added to the problems for the volunteer firefighters, who needed breathing apparatus before getting near the fire. A fire truck and crew from Kalamata came to help Gaia get the fire under control, plus the Dimos water truck - it took 23 TONS OF WATER to extinguish the fire!! . Pictures in the PsM gallery, show the scale of the problem!. More on  patrikocafe Then on June 9th/10th, during a period of storms and very heavy rain, when roads were more like rivers, Gaia volunteers were out most of the night, patrolling from Ag Nikolaos to Proastio. In Gonatsa and by Lefktron Bridge, they cleared blockages caused by RUBBISH being dumped in the gorges**, to allow the natural run-off which would avoid flooding, cordoned off the road near Foneas where there had been a landslide, checked apartments for flooding, moved stranded cars and cleared the main road from Stoupa to Ag Nikolaos, that was covered with debris. ** The DANGER from rubbish does not end here! When rubbish gets into the water courses, dangerous chemicals may be released! (June 2016)

Gaia will have a new rescue car for medical emergencies, very soon! The appeal for funds to get a new vehicle 'on the road' was only started in April, but the local community has risen to the challenge, and by mid-June, over €4,500 had been raised from events and donations.VEHICLE APPEAL The other good news is that after many months of looking for a suitable vehicle, that could be brought to Mani without excessive costs/red tape, one has been found in Germany. Erhard, one of the Gaia volunteers, will fly to Germany at his own expense and drive the vehicle to the Mani , sometime during July. Gaia is hoping to avoid import tax, but it may not be possible. Once here, some of the funds raised locally will be used to install the extra medical equipment needed, in case of emergency. (June 2016)

A lucky wild boar piglet gets help from GAIA : On May 14th, a car accidentally drove into a herd of wild boar, near Ag Nikolaos. One piglet was killed and another injured.The people in the car tried to help but were concerned that the injuries might be serious, and took the piglet to the Gaia base. Christina contacted Niko Kolokotronis for advice, as he has kept pigs. There was concern that any treatment/fostering should be done in such a way that the piglet could be returned to its natural environment later on. Fortunately the piglet has no serious injuries, and Niko cared for it for a few days. Meanwhile Gaia contacted the Hellenic Wildlife Hospital (EKPAZ) in Aegina and arranged to take the piglet there. It is now called Frabala (from Asterix comics!) and is unlikely to be anyone's lunch any time soon, as it is in a natural, but protected habitat, where is can live until hopefully, it can be released into the wild, away from hunters. (May 2016)

A better stretcher for emergency transport : Thanks to the French Red Cross (who generously donated it) and Patrick Marsh (who brought it from France ) Gaia now has a stretcher that is much more comfortable for the patient AND easier to handle. Within hours of its delivery to Gaia on April 20th, it was in use. Gaia had an emergency call to transport a patient from Stoupa to the Ag Nikolaos medical centre, and then take him to Kalamata hospital. Gaia are delighted with this addition to their medical emergency equipment. Now all they need is the better vehicle to put it in VEHICLE APPEAL ! (April 2016)

April 6th :Because of its location - one of the worst fires in Mani for 5 years! What started as the 'normal' occupation of clearing vegetation, turned into a dangerous fire that threatened to become a major disaster! There was only a breeze when the burning of vegetation was started on a property in Neo Proastio, but breezes are treacherous with tinder dry undergrowth, and the fire flared up unexpectedly. At first, the worker tried to deal with the spreading fire, but was unable to do so. Fortunately someone spotted the fire, and alerted Gaia who also contacted the Kalamata fire service to have 2 vehicles on standby in case they were needed, and a fire investigator. Gaia WERE ONLY JUST IN TIME, with barely minutes to spare before the fire spread into an inaccessible area where the fire would have raged out of control, with no way of stopping it, apart from the Canadair fire planes based in Athens. As it was, only an acre of land was burnt, but Gaia had 3 of their 25m hose sections destroyed, before the fire was stopped. The undergrowth was so dry that the ground was still burning underground at 2am. With very strong winds the following couple of days, Gaia continued on high alert, and dealt with several small fires that flared up around the original site. (April 2016)

Secure storage, but welfare supplies need replenishing regularly : For some time, Gaia's vehicles had to be kept outside, exposed to the elements because the 'garage' was full of welfare supplies. This was far from ideal, not just for the vehicles, but also because the 'garage' was not very secure. Now Gaia have a green container with floor to ceiling shelving , where welfare supplies of food, medication and clothing can be stored. However, with many demands for supplies, the stock is currently very low, and Gaia are appealing for more supplies for the Gaia/Dimos welfare work. see COMMUNITY SUPPORT   (March 2016)

From a severe nose bleed to burning fishing nets, and arson - a busy time for Gaia! : On February 17th, Gaia had 5 calls for help. A disabled patient in Riglia, with a severe nosebleed needed transport to the Ag Nikolaos Health centre, and back home again; a Pigi patient also needed transport to the Health Centre. With strong winds blowing, Gaia were on high alert on the 17th, and they were needed for 3 fires out of control - rubbish in Stoupa, fishing nets in Stoupa, and woodland in Gaitses**, where even with a fire truck from Kalamata, 5 acres were burnt before the fire was extinguished. ** Next day, with even stronger winds, ANOTHER arson fire in Gaitses resulted in 25 acres being burnt before it was under control! ALL Gaia fire fighters were out, and 5 cars from Kalamata. Tharros (February 2016)

Time consuming community help 'behind the scenes': A lot of Gaia's voluntary work recently, has not been dramatic, but very time consuming. Administrative help for local people including several British nationals, has involved amongst other things, contacting relatives, the Dimos, Social services, the Police, the Health Dept, Animal Welfare, the District Attorney, and the British Embassy, about a range of problems. It has also meant time explaining problems and procedures (Greek & English), providing emotional support for difficult decisions, discussing and helping to implement solutions, arranging for appropriate paperwork, and organising follow-up. Because Gaia volunteers can get help/advice from other groups/departments on community matters, many people turn to Gaia as the first point of contact, when they have a problem, and they get it! (February 2016)

A community effort to protect property : While out walking in the olive groves near Stoupa, a lady saw a pile of jackets. They were good quality, and it seemed a bit odd, so she looked around the nearby house which was unoccupied, and found a shutter had been prized open, and the place appeared to have been burgled. Through the PsM the matter was reported to the Police, and Gaia secured the property, to prevent further access. As the owner was not known, a message + photo on the PsM helped identify the owner, who was contacted, so the Police could check the property to find out what was missing. (February 2016)

All in a day's work: Twice on January 29th, Gaia volunteers were called to help transport sick and elderly people, because an ambulance was not available. Whether it is an urgent matter or not, Gaia will help, but their rescue vehicle is not the most convenient or efficient, and if the patient is on a stretcher, it takes two volunteers to remove the seats so the stretcher can be put in the vehicle. The frequency Gaia are needed for such transport, is one of the reasons a more suitable vehicle is needed, as a matter of urgency, preferably a second hand diesel ambulance, which can be used as a rescue car. Gaia have already been offered a vehicle, by the French Red Cross, but it will only be suitable if it can satisfy the criteria for it to avoid the prohibitive 23% sales tax! (January 2016)

Easier way to support Gaia financially : Making a donation to Gaia, or paying your annual subscription just got easier!  You can use Mani Money in Ag Nikolaos for payments. As a social solidarity gesture, Hara has generously offered to collect money for Gaia. You can make payments any day except Sunday. For detailed hours see MANI MONEY    (January 2016)

Preparing for the new storage facility: A new storage area is urgently needed at the Gaia base. Currently, all vehicles are outside, because the 'garage' is jam packed with supplies for distribution through the Gaia welfare/solidarity 'network' . Gaia have been given ALL the supplies needed for a new building at the Gaia base, including donations of nails and bolts! The Church that owns the land now has official title to the land, and is happy for Gaia to continue using the site. The only hurdle left is the need for a permanent building licence which will cost around € 3000, but cover all building on the site! Up to now the buildings are only 'temporary' but the new one will be permanent, eco-friendly (using solar panels etc) and provide space for seminars and training. Donations and fund raising ideas welcome! (January 2016)

2015

Gaia's Christmas Eve in Vassiliki Forest ! : A Sparti (Laconia) resident was concerned when they saw smoke rising from the Vassiliki Forest, and reported it to Kalamata fire services. Kalamata called Gaia to investigate. Gaia and a fire crew from Areopoloi went to investigate. It was a two hour drive and already dark, by the time they got to the scene, by which time, the fire had been put out.  It is thought that the smoke that was seen, came from a fire made by  a group having Xmas Eve fun, and when they realised the smoke might attract attention, they had put out the fire - this sort of thing has happened on previous Xmas Eves!! (December 2015)

Christmas welfare work : Gaia and other local volunteers, prepared nearly 100? gifts and essential supplies for families of our community and also 50 gifts for the special school in Kalamata. Just before Christmas a large consignment of food and basic necessities for delivery to refugees in Tilos, Kos and Samos, was assembled at the Gaia Base, from supplies in their welfare store and recent donations. see Help from Mani (December 2015)

Traffic accidents : On Dec 21st, a truck carrying liquid lime overturned on the road near Riglia. Gaia were called to wash the road and direct traffic, while the road was being cleaned. On Dec 28th, a tractor collided without appropriate beaconing collided with another vehicle. Fortunately there were no injuries but Gaia were again called to clean up and regulate the traffic. (December 2015)

Emergency access for Transport : Even when there is an ambulance available, Gaia may be able to get to the scene quicker and offer 1st Aid . They may also be needed to help with transport from places that are difficult to access. 3 times in November, and 5 times in December, Gaia were called to help with transporting sick/injured/elderly people to the Ag Nikolaos Health Centre or Kalamata Hospital. (December 2015)

Olive waste fires out of control: During November, with the fire season over, and olive harvesting in full swing, and the air full of smoke from the burning of olive and other waste, Gaia were called to several fires that got out of control. Lagada (8th), Proastio (11th), Kardamyli (12th) and Trachila (17th) (November 2015)

Collecting olive oil for charity: From the start of the olive harvest, volunteers in the villages of Mani, collected donations from the farmers/olive producers, for the needs of the collective kitchen. This effort would not have been possible without the sympathy and personal involvement of the olive press. At the mills, volunteers  collected oil and money, which was then taken to Athens for the "O allos anthropos" social kitchen. (October 2015)

Taygetos MTB marathon - On October 11th, Gaia volunteers were at the Taygetos MTB marathon . This is a gruelling 43 mile cycle race up into the mountains, plus the alternative 23 mile 'experience' . This is a potentially hazardous event, and Gaia volunteers were on hand throughout, to help direct traffic, provide 1st Aid and an emergency ambulance, if needed. It is a credit to the organisers and the discipline of the competitors, that there were only a few minor mishaps and the day was enjoyed by all. For pictures see   2407m Kardamili Mountain Activities (October 2015)





























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