Sunday, May 20, 2012

Middle-class Greeks Forced to join the hand-out queues

Image: Clinging to dignity: The elderly soup kitchen visitor / Photographer John McLellan

Hair carefully arranged, huge sunglasses adding to her chic air, the elderly woman had the undoubted look of a lady who lunched.


Once, perhaps, her rendezvous would have been with old friends in a smart restaurant close to Athens’ embassy district. Today her appointment was with charity – but she accepted her handout of bean soup in a plastic bowl with all the grace she could muster.

It was only when she realised that the outside world, in the form of a photographer and myself, were witnessing her ‘shame’ that she faltered. Horrified, she turned away, refusing to discuss the circumstances that had brought her to this municipal ‘soup kitchen’.

‘She has nothing left but her dignity,’ said a worker who approached her on our behalf. ‘She only started coming here in the past few weeks, and it is still so very hard for her. It will be her one meal of the day.

‘But there are more and more like her now. At first it was the immigrants and the illegals; the homeless. Now they’ve been joined by the young, the professionals, the middle class. And every day more come.’ On their knees, but refusing to be beaten by IMF and eurozone demands, the Greeks are clinging on to that dignity. Read More