My Week: Justen Schafer Humes

The founder of the Odysseus Foundation recounts his week

Justen Schafer Humes
Justen Schafer Humes

MONDAY - It's the start of my seven-day trip to Greece to visit our breast and cervical cancer centre in Halkidiki, northern Greece, and to meet doctors, patients and potential supporters. I depart early from London and fly to Thessaloniki. There's a lot to cram into a few days so I head straight to meet the director of Thessaloniki hospital, where women are sent from our centre for treatment.

TUESDAY - An early start because I'm returning to Thessaloniki to meet representatives from the Muslim, Roma and Chinese communities to discuss how they can encourage women to be screened. On the streets, there is evidence of the economic hardships Greek people are feeling. In Thessaloniki, there was lots of begging, something that was virtually non-existent a few years ago.

I return to our medical centre in Halkidiki to show two potential donors around our facility. I was able to show off our newly installed (and donated) Hologic mammography units. I hope that these individuals are moved by what we are doing.

Feeling the need for some coffee, sunshine and free wi-fi, I head to a cafe to catch up on emails. The locals I encounter are gripped by the political upheaval created by the resignation of the prime minister, but thankfully there are no riots to contend with.

WEDNESDAY - I spend a full day at the medical centre, where I'm on hand to greet 50 Roma women who arrive by coach to be screened.

THURSDAY - I finally get the chance to do something more light-hearted. I go on a tour at a local vineyard that produces a wine coincidentally called Odysseus. It's not too bad for a Greek wine. Because I'm ever the opportunist, we discuss a possible collaboration.

FRIDAY - I embark on a three-hour drive to Larissa in central Greece to meet more potential donors and a digital agency. It's always exciting to meet the creative teams. Later I meet one of our trustees. Feeling exhausted after a busy day, I head towards the sea for a gin and tonic.

The Odysseus Foundation works to prevent breast and cervical cancer in developing countries

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