The Heart of Giving
This photographic book on Father Nektarios’ lifelong work is a personal insight by documentary photographer Effy Alexakis – a homage in photographs and words to the unselfish kindness expressed by a Greek Orthodox priest and his volunteers in Sydney’s inner-western suburb of Newtown. All those in need of care and a meal are looked after, day after day, with dignity and sensitivity.
Alexakis formally met Father Nektarios at his Soup Kitchen in the community hall next to the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, Newtown, in February 2021. She had known of his philanthropic work for many years, but now began to regularly visit the Soup Kitchen with her camera and recorder over the following two years; sometimes more than once a week. Her documentary eye and inquisitive interviews reveal a busy and welcoming space, at times stressful and uncomfortable: a reality check in understanding people who are less fortunate, and the fundamental altruism at the heart of what it is to be human.
What they say
“When I first started the Soup Kitchen, it was not so much for the food, but for people to be together. The people would talk about what they had gone through, their sorrows and their hardships in Greece. I would look forward to sit and eat with them and to share their life stories. It was my favourite day of the week, and I couldn’t wait for Mondays to come around. ”Father Nektarios
"This place is like my second home. No judgements; everyone is accepted; no discrimination. Food, clothes, literature. It’s a happy place. It’s a really, truly happy place. It’s a safe place."Roland Chlouk
“I started coming here, volunteering my time, not officially. I was just coming, making a coffee or serving people or helping clean up. Mostly what I was doing is washing dishes, to be honest. … I just developed a personal interest and followed Father Nektarios for roughly a month or so. I was here every day, trying to see how they go about their work and what they do. I saw a man who was very passionate, very engaged, and devoted, not only to his faith and his religion, but also his local community, regardless of ethnicity or background.”Anastasios Zervopoulos
"I focus on three areas: the volunteers, those who visit the Soup Kitchen, and the life of Father Nektarios. Although I photographed Father Nektarios during services in the church, my main emphasis is on his philanthropic work and the Soup Kitchen. I have lost count of the number of times people have described Father Nektarios as ‘a living saint’ and someone who goes beyond what is expected. There is much love for him."Effy Alexakis