Marianna Vardinoyannis, GHF Board Member

Marianna V. Vardinoyannis
Goodwill Ambassador UNESCO
President Foundation for the Child and the Family

A Greek philanthropist, a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and a social activist, Marianna V. Vardinoyannis has focused on the rights, the education and the welfare of children on national, European and international levels. She is the founder and president of the Athens-based Foundation for the Child and the Family and the Association of Friends of Children with Cancer “ELPIDA”.

After studying economics at Denver University in Colorado, Ms Vardinoyannis began a lifetime of social activism as a member or a participant in a large number of associations and institutes fighting for peace and global solidarity and against the violation of human rights. She has also got a bachelor degree in history of art and she is a PhD candidate in archaeology at the University of Sheffield.

In naming her Goodwill Ambassador, alongside Mstislav Rostropovitch, Pierre Cardin, Catherine Deneuve and Montserrat Caballe, UNESCO recognized “her personal combat for the protection of children, the family and the least privileged in Europe and around the world and for her exceptional contribution to the promotion of the values of generosity, sharing and solidarity, and for her commitment in the service of the International Year for the Culture of Peace.”

UNESCO also paid Ms Vardinoyannis “particular tribute for her combat against the terrible form of violence that is poverty.”

In reply, she said that UNESCO’s programmes “are founded on the same values and ideals which, for many years, have been the guiding light of my work centered on children, hope and the future of mankind.”

Among the innumerable organizations in which Marianna Vardinoyannis she is active are Suzanne Mubarak’s Women’s International Peace Movement and the famous Library of Alexandria in Egypt. These reflect her active commitment to a culture of peace and the protection of the world’s cultural heritage. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC).

For her wide-ranging activities Ms Vardinoyannis has been awarded the French Legion of Honour, an honorary law degree from the the University of Sheffield and an honorary philosophy degree from the London Metropolitan University in the UK, the Paul Harris Fellow Award (its highest) from Rotary International, the Academy of Athens Award, the Golden Cross of Benefaction of the Hellenic Republic and the selection in 1996 as the “Woman of Europe, with the mission of promoting international summit contacts for the protection of human rights and especially children’s rights.”

To promote the dialogue among civilizations the Athens-born social activist organized a painting exhibition of women artists from the Islamic world at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris under the patronage of Her Majesty, Queen Rania of Jordan. The exhibition was called “Breaking the Veils.”

One of her initiatives for the protection of the world cultural heritage was the Exhibition “The Unity of a Unique Monument: The Parthenon” held at the headquarters of UNESCO.

Marianna V. Vardinoyannis has been a very practical activist on behalf of children. As president of ELPIDA she built and equipped three bone marrow transplant units at the Athens Children’s Hospial, the first in Greece. To accommodate the parents of sick children who come from the provinces, and whose therapy lasts for many months, ELPIDA built a fully-equipped five-storey Guest House close to the transplant units. The Guest House also takes in children with cancer from the Balkans and the Mediterranean region. Her current significant mission is the ELPIDA´s great project, the construction of the first Oncological Hospital for children in Greece, which is going to be finished soon.

As President of the Foundation for the Child and the Family, she has worked for the protection of children´s rights, she has organized numerous international conferences, such as the Round Table of the Business Community against Human Trafficking, she supports child victims of war, such as with material support for child victims in Bosnia including the manufacture of artificial limbs, and with 120 tons of first aid in Balkans, a surgery Center in Gracanica (Kosovo) and a kindergarten in Belgrade.

Other activities include the total reconstruction of the Greek village, Makistos, destroyed by the fires of summer 2007, the fight against drugs as Trustee of the Mentor Foundation, the support of people with special needs, as President of the Organising Committee of the Deaflympics-Athens 2013, and member of the Organising Committee of the Special Olympics-Athens 2011. (P.Ress)


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