Dark Times For Greece
“Not in my wildest dreams would I expect to see the situation we are in,” Leonidas Nikas said. “We have reached a point where children in Greece are coming to school hungry. Today, families have difficulties not only of employment, but of survival.” Mr.Nikas, a principal of an elementary school in a working class suburb of Athens has things that he says he never thought would happen; there are children picking through trash cans for food, asking schoolmates for leftovers, and some bent over in hunger pains. Many parents have not been able to find work for months and many families are living off of savings and rations of pasta and ketchup.
Over the past five years, the Greek economy has shrunken by around 20 percent and unemployment rates have reached over 27 percent, the highest in all of Europe. In addition, 6 out of 10 or 6o percent of job seekers admitted to not having had work for over a year, which is drastically affecting the lives of many Greek families, their children coming to school underfed, hungry, or even malnourished. Unlike U.S. schools, Greek schools do not provide subsidized lunches, and the cost is proving too high for many families. Under these dark circumstances, a ray of light has been shone through Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos, Greece’s education minister, working with the government to secure European Union financing to provide fruit and milk in schools, and vouchers for bread and cheese. In addition his department is working with the Greek Orthodox Church to provide thousands of care packages. “It is the least we can do in this difficult financial circumstance,” he said.
Written by Kevin Zhang