Join Friends of Amari

WELCOME DEAR FRIEND,

For many years now I have dreamt of bringing new life and vitality to my village, Amari. We often talked amongst ourselves, in Amari, about what to do for our beloved village, coming up with creative and exciting ideas. But always, in the end, nothing came to fruition.

In the summer of 2004, my teacher and friend, Sue Hollingsworth and her late husband Jim, came to visit me in Amari. With pleasure and pride I showed them around the village and we visited some beautiful homes, then neglected and dilapidated. Sue said how moved she was by the beauty and energy of the village and how sad she was that Amari felt like a village that was dying. I replied that every death contains the seed of new life, just waiting for the right moment to spring forth.

Then sitting in the sun outside the kafenio, we talked about how life could be brought back to the village, how people might return and how others might share its beauty. We spoke at length, one idea led to another and we decided to found a society called "The Friends of Amari" based in England. An International School of Storytelling and the Arts would be established in Amari together with a Cultural Centre that would hold conferences, exhibitions, many different courses, seminars, lectures, festivals ...... we were very excited. For the first time, I felt that this was not just talk; something really wonderful would actually happen. This time the dream would be realized.

We have come a long way since 2007 when a dedicated group who share this vision founded the international association, "Friends of Amari". We held our first fundraising event in April 2008 in Forest Row, East Sussex. In March an ‘Introduction to storytelling' course was held in Rethymno. We have developed a programme of courses and workshops. We have successfully raised money to refurbish an existing building which will become a cultural centre named ‘Estia Amariou'. This Estia (Greek meaning hearth/centre) holds our hopes and dreams for new beginnings for Amari and a haven for our community.

Meanwhile in Amari, over twenty homes have been refurbished, renovated or built from scratch. The village no longer looks neglected nor delapidated. The Women's Association of Amari has become very active and organises German lessons, an annual bazaar, other fundraising events, a museum and recycling.

I wish to thank all my friends and loved ones, in Crete and in England, for their continued love, support and hard work without which we could not have come this far. Friends of Amari has been built on love and trust.

On behalf of Friends of Amari, I invite you to join us and become a Member of our Association, to share our dream and together to build a sustainable future for Amari and the world.

Looking forward to welcoming you as a Member,
With loving trust
Stella Kassimati