Messinia: Reform of Desyllas thanks to the volunteering initiative of locals and expatriates (photo)

Messinia: Reform of Desyllas thanks to the volunteering initiative of locals and expatriates (photo)

A model of volunteerism and cooperation is the village of Desylla, in the municipality of Oichalia.

Being part of northern Messinia which was “hit” by the fires in the summer of 2007, the inhabitants and having origins in the village, felt the need to take matters into their own hands and beautify their village, creating the group “Agapame Desylla”. It is an initiative that took shape in October 2022 without any support from agencies and the state, and a few months later, targeted interventions and creations, as well as events to strengthen the culture of the region, saw the day.

Speaking to “E”, the band member and one of its pioneers Marios Grogosaffirm that the need to exploit their place in the middle of the general abandonment which characterizes the province, unites them so that the village can be reborn.

Marios Grogos works as an agronomist in Athens, originally from Desyllas, while he has repeatedly dealt with television on his subject, through appearances and collaborations in programs of many channels. After all, through his subject, he has the knowledge as well as the experience to contribute on his side to the work. Regarding the Municipality’s initial aid to the village, he indicated that it is largely based on central lighting, streets and related means through the incentives of President Vassilis Tzianou, but the village was lagging behind in embellishment material. “There was a will from many people for change, but the spark was missing, for the village to mobilize and take action without any help,” he continued, noting that the core of the group consisted of five people, himself, as well as Georgia Grogou, Eleni Antonopoulou, Nikos Antonopoulos and Christina Sakellariadis, arriving for a non-profit action even 50 people!


Initially, the team focused on shaping certain abandoned spaces, such as the station, the entrance to the village and a spring, while giving color to the habitat, through the creation of a large graffiti to highlight the history of the place. “There are people who contribute by buying the materials needed for construction, or by using a machine or a vehicle as well as their knowledge in an object”, he underlined. As she explained, a respectable sum has been spent on these interventions so far, both by the members of the group and by the inhabitants of the village, then turning its attention to the cultural part. In this context, a photo exhibition entitled “Our Roots” was organized at Easter, presenting collages of families from Desyllas, with a large participation of inhabitants and visitors, even coming from Laconia. As for the next events planned by the group, the plan is to hold a Culture Festival on August 26, with the aim of making it an institution for the region. According to Mario Grogo, the program will include a visit to the village with storytelling, a presentation of local flavors by the active women of the village who were the inspiration for the creation of the group and a concert by a group of Greek artistic singing. “And this project will have a voluntary profile, with an independent character, especially in the pre-election period, through an effort to prove that with little and a lot of will and passion, things can be done, change the village for the better,” he noted.


As for the graffiti that was created in a prominent place, it was an idea of ​​the group, which was implemented by Kostas Louzis (Skitsofrenis), known for his creations in Messenia. “Through the graffiti, we highlight the village station which burned down in 2007, the train which passed through Desyllas, now a memory, as well as the mosaics which were found outside the village,” he said. he pointed out, noting that he has an area close to 200 square meters.

Regarding the station building, having come under the jurisdiction of OSE, the group cannot intervene internally, however they have begun the process of shaping and cleaning the exterior of the area, resulting after the Volunteer work is a recreation area with wooden benches and tables, gravel, new plants and lighting. “As volunteers, we cannot enter into the process of making a profit by owning something. From there, if anyone wants to use the interior of the Station professionally, possibly through catering, they should contact the authorities,” he explained. In the part of the entrance, where it now welcomes the inhabitants and visitors in the best possible way through the structures that have been installed, the scene has been shaped as Marios Grogos said with the logic “How the first impression is that who counts”. In addition, seeing the hashtag of the village at the entrance through letters, we realize that its inhabitants have wanted to “marry” the traditional with the modern, knowing that the A and the Z in a destination to spread, c is social networks. He also recalled that the village is a passage to go from Messinia to Agia Theodora, giving him the opportunity to stop and admire it, being a good reason for a day trip and not only, from Kalamata and other places.


According to Mario Grogo, a visit to the village can be combined with an excursion to other nearby places, such as the historic acropolis of Ellinikos where entry was controlled in antiquity from Messinia to Arcadia, as well as the nearby watermill with arches of Roman origin. time. Regarding the hospitality of the place more broadly, he clarified that nearby there are residences linked to short-term leases, while in terms of restoration, he informed that the village has both a traditional tavern and cafe. “What we want is for our village to be an alternative destination, attracting “restless” people who want to explore something different, keeping a distance from more “crowded” places with many shops. Mainly travelers who like the tranquility of the circuit”, he added, adding that the group will set their future objectives in the next period, a sign that their vision has continuity. “People never imagined that with simple gestures, willpower and relatively little money, a village could really change its appearance, entering the process of participating in actions. That’s why we listen to the wishes of permanent residents, taking our next step accordingly, after a vote,” he concluded.


The village has a panoramic view of the entire Messinian plain, while it is located 3.5 km from Diavolitsi, 7 km from Meligala and 16 km from the Holy Church of Agia Theodora, in Ano Melpeia. The historic Corinth – Tripoli – Kalamata metric railway line passes through the village and at its northern end is the station of the same name. During an excavation carried out in 1900 between the villages of Desyllas and Filia, two mosaics were discovered which belonged to a Roman villa and which are now exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Messenia. The population of the village today is estimated at around 150 inhabitants.

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