NAME: Niki Doulou
BACKGROUND: Secondary School
ACTION/SECTOR: Third Sector
POSITION: President of Executive Board
My Background and Career
I worked as a product advertiser and manager of active sales teams for many years. I have also worked as a volunteer for other NGOs for a fairly long time (PRAKSIS, European Network of Women). The people I met when I was actively involved in matters of public interest in Peristeri Municipality helped me promote my organisation faster.
I consider bureaucracy and the state apparatus a threat to my agency development. My organization Synanthropoi is a non-governmental, non-profit organization based in Athens, Greece. Synanthropoi ensures:
• Support of social vulnerable populations
• Promotion of solidarity and volunteering.
• Promotion of time-exchange programmes
• Cultural and educational opportunities
• Cooperation with other Non-Governmental Organizations with the objective of establishing a dialogue with the community and government bodies.
Through its programmes, Synanthropoi offers humanitarian aid, psychological and social support, legal aid and career advice to socially excluded groups which have not got access to social and legal support such as:
• the poor, the unemployed and the homeless
• single-parent families
• women victims of domestic violence
• people with disabilities
The stuff consists mainly of volunteers and Synanthropoi has developed a network of collaboration with psychologists, lawyers, social workers, artists, teachers and people who offer their time to support the administration of the organisation.
I had no financial problems. My non-profit organization relies on human resources and voluntary work. Also, there were a lot of donations to help make the facilities ready for use. Therefore, the money required to begin operations was not much. I do think that time is the main family problem for someone working in the voluntary sector. You need to be away from home many hours a day, which means that if you have young children and no one to help you, things can become very difficult to manage. Lack of time is a real problem indeed. Still, I believe it can be dealt with if handled properly. I faced no social difficulties. I was acceptable because of my participation in public affairs. What came to my notice, though, was that there was some initial suspicion as to the fact that the organization’s work focuses mainly on women who have been victims of violence, one-parent family leaders and women with dependent family members. There seemed to be a general notion that there could not possibly be such cases of women abuse in this day and age. In that sense, the organization had no reason for being. Volunteering itself proved to be a problem. It is unfortunate that the spirit of volunteering is not promoted in Greece, so it takes considerable effort to involve people in community work. However, it soon became apparent that they had the desire to do so, but they did not know the way
My two children gave me their full support to pursue my vision. I am ambitious and love helping people. I think that these two personality traits helped a lot achieve my targets. Personal acquaintances played a central role in my vision’s realization.
Among my competences, I am able to learn and put into practice new information in my work. I easily adapt myself to changes. I know and I use the required techniques to do a good job. I am a good communicator. I listen and I pay attention to other people’s problems. I like partnership building. In case of arguments I’m looking for peace. I like to negotiate and that everybody end up with satisfaction. I coordinate and motivate the staff. I like to work as a team I schedule activities and organize myself easily. I solve problems and I find solutions. I like to have objectives and to reach my goals. I am able to use other people’s experience and advice.
Among my qualities I’m active, talkative, critical, cooperative, persistent, optimistic, innovative, trusting, practical, flexible, confident, open-minded, fast, creative, impatient, far-sighted and democratic.
Hints & Tips
My lucky phrase is “Miracles occur only if we believe in them”
Three women have been a great inspiration to me: the two of them through their attitude to life and the third one through the social care agency she runs in Athens.
All three of them are dynamic, composed and love everything.
My advice: Set as clear targets as possible. Obstacles are not objective, but personal. Targets should link directly or indirectly to some worthy cause. Have a positive attitude to life. Love what you do. Keep an open mind. Get joy out of what you do
Assets to be developed: Leadership skills, Effective communication , Collectiveness
Weaknesses to overcome: Fear, Insecurity, Arrogance, Making short-term plans