ΨΗΦΙΑΚΟ ΜΟΥΣΕΙΟ ΒΛΑΧΟΚΕΡΑΣΙΑΣ

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In previous thematic units, we covered the associations of Vlahokerasiotes in Attica and in the diaspora. In this unit, we deal with the associations of Vlahokerasiotes in Vlahokerasia, following a historical approach. The first recognized association with Vlahokerasia as the seat was the “Brotherhood of Vlahokerasiotes – Manthyrea”. It was set up in 1920 according to the Charter that Angelos Bistolas had in his archives. The names of the founding Board members are at the end of the Charter. Cooperating with Giannis Zeppos, we identified the members of the Board listed at the end of the founding Charter.

In turn, we communicated with their descendants and secured the photographs of four Board members, among which was also the President of the Board, Nikolaos El. Manos. During the conversation with their descendants we learned that most, if not all, the Board members had lived in the United States and some of them (e.g. the President) had played a major role in the establishment of the corresponding Association in Pittsburgh[1]. Apparently, this accounts for the similarities in the names of the two Associations (see thematic unit, “Activities of Vlahokerasiotes Omogeneis”)[2]. The visitors to the VDM can activate the hyperlinks which pertain to the Statutes and the history of the Associations (with Vlahokerasia as a seat) for more information.

As mentioned in the history of the Vlahokerasia Associations of the village, that was written by Maria Kopitas and the undersigned, we have no exact knowledge how long the “Brotherhood of Vlahokerasiotes –Manthyrea” was in operation. We assume that it was functioning until the mid-1930s. We also do not know how many of the members of the “Manthyrea” Association remained in Greece, returned to the U. S. or went back and forth between the two destinations. Without doubt, its activities were affected or restricted by the 1929 Depression. Moreover, many other world and national events (e. g. WW II, Greek Civil War) intervened, which may have also affected adversely the activities of the pioneering Association. Associational activity reappeared in the village in the decade of the 1970s, after the fall of the dictatorship in 1974.

The second recognized association, the “Vlahokerasiotes Educational and Cultural Association”, made its appearance in 1979. Its activities were concentrated on the organization of the 15th of August Festival, the Mayday celebration and the organization of parties. Reliable local sources referred to the vicissitudes the Association confronted during the period 1979-2004, while the then President of the “Vlahokerasiotes Association of Attica”, Spyros Kotsinas, wrote that the above Association was “in a state of dissolution”[3]. Simultaneously, he enumerated the objective conditions that militate against a stable operation of associations in the village, such as the shrinking of the population, the migration of young people to the cities and the seasonal movement of the residents to the winter settlements. Therefore, our village (like so many other ones in the country) was deprived of a sufficient number of young people who could provide unhampered support to an association. The above adverse conditions could be mitigated by the progress made in transportation (modern multi-lane highways) and in new technologies which significantly reduced distances.

Unfortunately, we have no relevant materials (documents or photos) for the period 1979-2004. The photographic materials of the present thematic unit are restricted to the period 2004-2016, during the period when the “Vlahokerasiotes Educational and Cultural Association” was re-activated (2004) and the “Vlahokerasia Youth Association” was established (2011), displacing the former and continuing to function until today[4]. It is noteworthy that after 2004, there is increased diversification of Association activities, many of which have been recorded with the help of cameras and the new technologies[5]

The materials for the «Brotherhood” (1920) are followed by the photographs from the period 2004-2016, which depict various activities such as excursions, a lecture-discussion on gynecological issues, children’s drawing exhibitions with divergent themes, the 15th of August Festival, group games for children, chestnut festivals, a memorial service for Capetan Giannakas, and presentation of Anna Iakovou’s book for children “The Mistress of Ro”. These photographic materials are enriched by various hyperlinks. These include the following: (1) the biography of the outgoing President, Maria Kopitas, who served as President for 12 continuous years along with an article of hers on the Association’s activities, which had been published in the “Voice of Vlahokerasia” (2) The history of the Vlahokerasia Associations we mentioned above (3) the two Charters of the more recent Associations (“The Vlahokerasiotes Educational and Cultural Association” and the “Vlahokerasia Youth Association”) (4) An article by “Vlahokerasiotis” (Giorgos Ziakas) about the “15th of August celebration” (5) a mini-collection of the works and photographs of the children who participated in the drawing workshop following the presentation of Anna’s Iakovou children’s book “The Mistress of Ro” and, finally, (6) a video clip from the U-tube on the “Chestnut Festival” which attracted more than 1500 people from the village and the surrounding areas.

The members of the Board of the “Vlahokerasia Youth Association”, and especially the President Maria Kopitas, are to be commended because, in spite of the adverse conditions, they have managed to keep the Association alive and to offer a rich cultural, educational and recreational program to the residents of Vlahokerasia and the surrounding villages. It’s of vital necessity that the “Vlahokerasia Youth Association” continue unhampered its work, including among others, the publication of the “Voice of Vlahokerasia”. The work of the Association acquires more and more significance in view of the inactivation of the “Vlahokerasiotes Association of Attica – Prophet Elias”. The successful conducting of recent elections (25/06/2016) by the Association, the relative renewal of the Board, and the reelection of Maria Kopitas for the post of President are good signs that the Association will continue and even extend its activities. It deserves the support of all Vlahokerasiotes, omogeneis and friends.

Nikos P. Petropoulos
VDM Committee Coordinator

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[1] Our gratitude to Lefteris Sourlas (nephew of Nikolaos Manos), Michalis and Georgios Bobos (grandchildren of Michalis Bobos),  Nikos K. Baziotis (grandson of Nikolaos K. Baziotis) and Giorgos K. Spanos (son of Constantinos A. Spanos) for their contribution to the present thematic unit.

[3] See his article, “Metonomasia” (“Renaming”) , “Voice of our Village”, No. 38, June 1993

[4] The presence of the word “Youth” in the title of the Association does not mean that only young people can become members. The Association is open to all Vlahokerasiotes and their friends regardless of age.

[5] Our gratitude to Maria Kopitas,  President of the “Vlahokerasia Youth Association”, for the collection of photographs and video clips. 

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