The exhibition “Myrtis: face to face with the past” opens today at the Center for Openness and Dialogue (COD), at the Entrance Hall of the Prime Minister’s Office. It will remain open for a period of three weeks.
The exhibition “Myrtis: face to face with the past” features the reconstructed face of an anonymous 11-year-old Athenian girl who was – along with Pericles – one of the tens of thousands of victims of typhoid fever in the year 430 BC, the second year of the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta and their allies. The name Myrtis was given to her by scientists that worked on the reconstruction of her features.
Eight years ago, Myrtis became a “Friend of the UN” and now “has returned” to become a powerful spokesperson to preventable childhood diseases. Data point to the fact that despite huge strides in reducing child mortality and fighting malaria and other diseases, more than six million children still die before their fifth birthday every year. Vaccine-preventable diseases are still responsible for 1.5 million deaths worldwide each year.
In her letter to the Heads of States eight years ago, Myrtis wrote:” “My death was inevitable. In the 5th century BC we had neither the knowledge, nor the means to fight deadly illnesses. However, you, the people of the 21st century, have no excuse. You possess all the necessary means and resources to save the lives of millions of people. To save the lives of millions of children like me who are dying of preventable and curable diseases. 2,500 years after my death, I hope that my message will engage and inspire more people to work and make the Millennium Development Goals a reality.”
Myrtis today has returned to become a strong voice in support of the Sustainable Development Goal 3 – Good Health and Wellbeing. The return of Myrtis is not only a chance to see the face of an 11-year-old girl playing at the entrance of the Acropolis when the Athenians built the Parthenon: her return 2,500 years after her birth is a contribution in the effort to save the lives of other children, in places that she never knew.
The exhibition is organized under the auspices of the Embassy of Greece in Albania, United Nations Agencies in Albania, and is hosted by the Center for Openness and Dialogue.