Christmas with 313 euros

Dec. 20, 2020

Dimitris and Maria are a couple with a 13 year old daughter. Dimitris is a construction worlerer and has been unemployed for two and a half years. He has a degree in gardening and has worked from time to time in municipal programs. At the same time, he does whatever construction work he can find. Their only income is the 313 euros of the welfare allowance that his wife Maria receives, as a person with a disability. They live from the meals of the Church and with the help of Solidarity for All.

“With a welfare allowance, how can a family of three make ends meet? We have bills, doctors. There are times when you have a child who wants something. You tell him, it is not possible. I have no money. Be patient. What to do? It is very tough, especially when we need to go to a doctor’, Maria confesses to me.

The situation worsened with the lockdown, because the chances for even a casual job disappeared completely. We are in the “extreme phenomena of this society”, he continues. When I ask them if they expect anything better in the future from the government: “There is nothing. No hope. “When the announcement for the 400 euros came out, we thought we were entitled to it, but those who got it in April, like Dimitris, can’t get it now,” Vroutsis σιαδ (Note: Vroutsis is the Greek Minister for Labor affairs) said.

Dimitris takes the floor and continues in a broken voice: “This is a great mockery for the unemployed.” “No one cares if we live, if we have to eat. They want to finish us off. Where are the jobs? Where are the hospitals when we need them? Zero. Apart from us, there are thousands who are at the bottom. “I do not care about myself, but I am worried about my child,” he added, without being able to hide his emotion. When I ask them how they see the future, I get an answer: “With terror”, especially for the “regeneration” that the mayor of Athens, Costas Bakogiannis, will implement in Prosfygika. (Note: a district of Athens with old bulidings the Atehns Mayor wants to demolish). “We will be homeless on the streets,” they both tell me, scared for a tomorrow that does not seem to include them.

Published in the Greek daily Avgi