We all know that there is a crisis in Greece at the moment, but what’s the reality? How is it effecting ordinary people trying to live their lives? Earlier in the week Anastasia Magounakis poured her heart out on Facebook, I wanted to find out more about the woman behind this post:the Greek Crisis what don't you see?

“When I decided to stay in this country leaving behind another life, I did so because I fell in love, first with the country itself and then with my other half. Living here has not been an easy ride but never have I regretted that initial decision more so than in the last five years.

We lived a happy life with no excesses. We worked hard, raised our children and enjoyed the friendships we built over the years.

In the last few years however we had the rug pulled out from under us, so to speak. Working hard was no longer enough so we increased our efforts but even that was not enough.

Making small sacrifices for the good of the nation was not enough so we doubled the sacrifices we made. Over the past few years we have been wrung dry.

We have no more to give but even that is not enough. So I have a question that has been niggling me in the last few months and it is directed to our creditors.

What don’t you see?

Is it the families living below the poverty line? Yes we are a proud nation and we will not grovel and complain, we look after each other. Those of us who are a little better off help with clothes, food and whatever else we can even though we too are struggling. Shall we stop so you can see better?

What don’t you see?

Is it our youth with university degrees and no possibility of employment? You see coffee shops full of young people drinking coffee but take a closer look. They drink the same coffee for hours and that coffee is a treat by their parents. Take an even closer look and you may notice that they rarely smile. Is that what youth is supposed to look like???

What don’t you see?

Is it the pensioners who have worked their whole lives and paid taxes (because excuse me for saying but it is not the working or middle classes who are able to evade their responsibilities so easily) who now have to pay for their doctor’s visits? who wait for the end of the day to go to the local markets because the prices go down? Who fear the very real possibility of going to hospital because they are not equipped or able to cater to the public any more?

What don’t you see?

Is it the ill who are no longer covered by their medical insurance and must pay extra to see their doctors or worse still be admitted into the barely functioning hospitals with a single nurse catering to the needs of sixty (a recent example seen with my own eyes). Hospitals lacking basic supplies like sheets, pillow cases, paracetemol and bandages?Hospitals unable to pay for heating in the winter?

What don’t you see?

Is it the small businesses shutting down because the costs far exceed revenue? Small businesses that have been forced to pay taxes on money not gained yet, not worked for yet. Businesses have been forced to pay tax on the year they have worked and to pre-pay a tax for the following year not worked yet. Is that even constitutional?

What don’t you see?

Is it the increase in suicide rate?

So now let me tell you what I see.

I see a game of political chicken in progress.

I see bullying of extreme proportions, at a time when anti-bullying campaigns are in the headlines.

I see double standards as all nations have a debt to pay off but none have been punished in the way we have.

I see a fabrication of stereotypes: Greeks the lazy tax evaders.

I see people looking for a scape goat to point the finger at, punish and more importantly take the onus and the attention off themselves for their own inadequacies, insecurities and maybe even crimes.

….and what I think.

I think the scape goat has been found but it refuses to conform to its job description.

I think we are being kicked while we are down, an action reprehensible in any other circumstance and we are being misled by politicians and journalists alike. Everyone has their own agenda. The final decision is ours but even that has been reduced to a cut and dried, black and white choice which it isn’t.

How it will be worded on the referendum is crucial but I feel that I speak for the majority when I say:

YES to Europe, the Euro, the Eurozone BUT ABSOLUTELY NOT to any more austerity. We have been bled dry. There is no more to give and there is no more desire to try. We tried HARD for five years and things did not improve but worsened.

So, something else you don’t see is that this experiment has been a failure. The guinea pig is dead!
Find another way, another solution!”

Who is Anastasia?

Anastasia and her family

Anastasia and her family

Anastasia 52 is Australian Greek, an English teacher she came to Greece in 1990 to discover her roots and compare teaching practices.

She was a qualified teacher working in the Australian public system in Melbourne before coming here. She gave up security, a steady job and a whole different life style to make Greece her home.

Her parents emigrated to Australia in the mid-sixties and returned just before the crisis it hard. Her father lived with the dream of returning to the homeland for most of his life.  She says:

Both my parents are very disappointed in the turn of events..as we all are.

Like many she fell in love with country and also met her husband. They have 2 children.

What has she invested in Greece?

Anastasia has been running her own language school for the last 18 years in Thessaloniki.

Anastasia's language school

Anastasia’s language school

It’s tough but she’s hanging in there. Once she employed 4 staff but is now down to 2. As she said

Too much blood, sweat and tears have gone into it for me to just
up and leave now. Too must invested as I set it up when my kids were babies and all the
preparation and admin was conducted after midnight for years as I looked after the kids
in the morning,taught till ten at night and did everything else after midnight!

I won’t go down without a good fight!

The largest investment of all is in her children. Her daughter is 19 and at uni studying English language and literature and her son 15 will go to senior high school in September.

What will the future hold for them? 

At the moment that’s not a question she can even begin to think about.

Right now the biggest worry are the more immediate ones. Financial and health.

How has austerity effected them financially?

My husband is a PE teacher in a primary school and he is another casualty of the crisis with his salary slashed.

Running a business, with continuous tax changes is impossible.  She said

People have also become nasty and difficult to deal with…on the one hand I understand but on the other it’s an added strain for me.

I’m downsizing to the bone, but holding on by the skin of my teeth for now.

What are their worries about health?

With reported shortages in medicines, pharmacies have been running out of things for months now:

my daughter is a diabetic…so.. fear about whether we’ll continue to get insulin is another matter.

Her own health and the rest of the family are effected because the government health insurance is not covering the things it used to.

Anastasia’s initial post was written as she was angry at being turned away for blood tests because her government health insurance wasn’t accepted by the microbiology lab she went to. You won’t believe what happened next:

After that it was time to visit my gynecologist….mammogram time…. Well ladies guess what. Apparently if you need to have a breast ultra sound the government insurance can only cover ONE! So after a five second silence as I was rendered speechless, I had to ask the pressing question….WHICH ONE? LEFT or RIGHT? Is this the Twilight Zone?

Lastly Anastasia said:

I’ve put 20 years into this life and that’s what they are trying to take away from me.

Greece this week really has felt a little like a twilight zone, waiting to see what happens in the referendum tomorrow. Waiting and hoping that things will surely get better for ordinary Greeks, for people like Anastasia.

 

12 months later and we all now know the results of the Greek referendum and the following government decisions. Austerity has been increased and there are still capital controls on the banks.

Are you living in Greece at the moment? How are the austerity measures and capital controls effecting you and those you know? If you’ve found this post useful please comment and share. Thank you

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
%d bloggers like this: