In Greece, a portrait of a recent recruit of the AJCM, a man of culture with a thousand faces and a thousand projects, who brings with him the solidarity commitment of young Greeks.

Rock singer, doctor in Cultural Sociology, musician, scientific director of a centre for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers, songwriter, specialist in European funding programmes for cultural projects, responsible for addiction prevention workshops for young people. Behind all these labels in a list that is not exhaustive, there is only one man, Andreas Almpanis, 45 years old, a mysterious and indefinable Greek activist who has just recently joined the AJCM.

Born and raised in Larissa, the fourth largest city in Greece, he left to study and returned 15 years and three degrees later. In the meantime and in parallel with his studies, he founded a rock band “I Fovi tou Prigkipa” (The Prince’s Fears) with three other students. The band acquired a little bit of notoriety and played all over the country. Two years later, they were  signed by the Virgin label. The adventure lasted seven years, the time of four albums. This group of four people were Andreas’ first “team” and, like all those who would follow, they produced art, his means of expression par excellence.

The end of the group marked the beginning of his doctoral programme. In 2008, Andreas became a doctor in cultural sociology and started a thesis entitled “Minorities and Social Exclusion”. He returned to Larissa where his thesis led him to the next stage of his life: he became the scientific director of a house for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers run by the NGO Arsis. The experience marked him. « I understood that to really be able to support people in need, two things are essential: to really know oneself and to always bear in mind that, apart from life’s circumstances, no human being is superior to the others ».

He later joined the SMouTh musical theatre artistic collective dedicated to providing educational and artistic expression opportunities to young people who would not have access to them otherwise . Every year, the collective puts on shows and participates, thanks to Andreas, in European cultural exchange programs allowing the emerging young artists of the association not only to travel but also to perform in front of and meet other young artists or aspiring artists from all over Europe.

But this, of course, was not enough for him. Over the years, two other projects have therefore emerged. He became the scientific director of the creative workshop of the local OKANA (Public Organisation for the Fight against Addiction) and, as a father, he set up a programme specially designed for children. The aim is to use children’s creation and artistic expression to protect them from future temptations and the dangers of addiction, something

But this was obviously not enough for him. Soon, he also set up the MAKE USE collective for young people between 16 and 30 years old who want to « act as vectors of solidarity, to identify and understand social problems and solve them ». As for SMouTh, he has secured European programmes to enable these young people to travel to meet other young people across Europe who share the same ideals and thus transform local goodwill into global actions on a European scale. And as he also wanted to express himself, since 2016 he has created with some friends a new rock band, “Birthday Kicks”, which is now on its second album.

The source of his motivations? Andreas has difficulty answering clearly and seems uncomfortable. A simple answer seems complicated to give, like he wanted to hide behind vague concepts in order not to reveal his big secret. As if reluctantly, he eventually admits that he just wants to be an actor of change, of a change towards a better world.

Utopian? The term seems to appeal to him instantly. With a renewed self-confidence, he readily admits it. « Utopia is the unattainable goal that you still have to try to reach. But whether or not to reach it is not really important. What matters is the journey itself ».

Has the fact of being father for 9 years pushed him to work even harder to change the world in which his two sons are growing up? He stands and thinks: « maybe… But if my children were asked what their father does, they would say that daddy is never home ». He is too busy trying to change the world.

Pavlos Kapantais, Athens

Photo by Giannis Floulis