Handouts to survive hard time
SIX months ago, Vasilia relished the chance to cook a Sunday meal in her Athens home for her three beautiful granddaughters.
Now the 70- year- old has to line up at noon in the baking Athens sun with Vasilia, 11, Sofia, 6, and four- year- old Georgia, all resplendent in their Sunday best, outside a soup kitchen. There they will share food with hundreds of others who have come for their one solid meal a day.
“I have lived a tough life and survived a civil war, but both their parents have lost their jobs two years ago and well, we have to eat,” Vasilia said.
“Yes I voted ‘ yes’ but what difference will it make, yes- no, I do not know.”
The Keramikos district soup kitchen survives on donations from local supermarkets, bakeries, a meat factory and money raised in Australia from expat Greeks predominantly in Melbourne and Sydney.
Staff at the church- run kitchen start at 7am and there are queues snaking down the road. Sometimes scuffles break out and a chef stands by the door yelling for calm.
“On Sundays we do more and we get no support from the government or local council. This is from donations and volunteers, local people supporting others,” Evangelia Consta, a volunteer at the kitchen for the past five months said.
Vasilia breaks out in tears as her three granddaughters rally around and hug her.
“I don’t want anyone to take my girls away,” Vasilia sobs.
Spontaneous crying is the norm now in a once proud city.
Vasilia and Georgia, 4.