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The two faces of hunger #2 - Recognition The two faces of hunger #2 - Recognition
by Katerina Charisi
2020-03-02 10:19:36
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If we want to timely define the Greek recession, then 2009 is the year. In 2009, I was a newlywed and we lived on mountain Pelion. With a lot of struggle and a lot more debts, we opened a small café on the main - and only - road of Pinakates village. It was a beautiful, cozy place, with a big fireplace, wood and stone all around it. Every weekend the place was full and we worked up to 16 hours some times. My husband was taking customers orders and served, while I prepared the beverages and played music at nights. People loved it. They came to us from all over Greece.

Less than two years later and without quite understanding what was going on, we locked its doors for the last time. Business had made a free fall, the expenses running; we had just barely paid back for our debts and it was already the time to shut the place down, trying to avoid new debts and the nightmare of not being able to get free. The village very soon looked like a ghost town. It got quieter, it got darker.

grpove01_400All what’s left from that place, is a few pictures and an expired electricity bill. Nothing else. None of us guessed that we might close the place down to take more pictures to remember.

So 2009. That’s when we first felt that something is going on in Greece. The truth is though, that the Greek Crisis began a lot earlier. The years after 1974 (after the end of dictatorship) were the years that Greece created her biggest debts. The Greek government kept getting loans, and as a natural result, the debt of the country skyrocketed. Between 1980 and 1993, the debt went from 28,3% up to the 111,6% of GDP.

However, in 1999 Greece presents …development, the debt falls straight down reaching under 3% of GDP and the country becomes a member of the European Union (EMU back then).

With “magic”.

Presenting fake accounting operations, concealing deficits and loans, Greece shows a different reality, while kept falling down. As for the Greeks, little they knew. Even when we found out, years later, what had happened, we were all too busy with our heavily indebted credit cards and stock market hunting, to pay any attention.

The rest just followed. Almost a decade later and nothing really seems to matter for the people anymore. Who is responsible for all this? What do the numbers and statistics say? Who cares. What does it matter? And, how many of us, while in the center of the disaster, can really realize what exactly is going on? Still, we all agree that back in 2009, something changed. Since then, we try to understand what’s going on, we try to give any logical explanation, while getting from angry to deniable, to silent. Some people just gave up. It didn’t worth fighting anymore for them.

And then came the recognition: Yes, we DO have a problem.

I cannot solve the country’s problems, though. I am not a politician. I am not an economist, either. I am just a human being, a 35 year old mother with two little kids, trying to survive while my husband has to leave town for weeks to work and while my hands are tight and I make no money at all. My existence is put in the fridge; my studies, my abilities, my dreams.

It took me years to get it inside my head that nothing of all this is my fault. I think 2017 had to come to understand it. However, each time the fridge is empty, each time I put another expired and unpaid bill on the pile, each time they cut our water supply or electricity, each time I count the euro cents for a loaf of bread, a huge blame flashes before my eyes: YOU. It’s all your fault.

Some people managed to find a solution to their own problems and even succeeded. We see it happening and it gives everybody a hope that things might get better some day. Too many others though, never made it. Many people still try to understand how to deal with recession. Some others decided to end their lives. And in the meantime, many, way too many others, are homeless; are hungry.

How many are we?


 The two faces of hunger #1 #2

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