Hand­outs to sur­vive hard time

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

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.

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