Athens homeless strikes a chord with Greek Australian MP

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Greek Australian Labor MP Steve Georganas was deeply moved by a visit to an Athens Homeless Centre earlier this year. On a trip to Greece, Mr Georganas arranged a visit – through the Australian Ambassador to Greece Jenny Bloomfield – to visit the Homeless Foundation in Athens to see first-hand the devastation inflicted on everyday Greeks through the financial crisis. Yet he also saw the tireless help received through the effort of volunteers to the illegal immigrants in central Athens. “These soup kitchens or homeless centres are struggling to cope with demand at the moment. There are so many people out of work. The economic crisis has been cruel, especially to workers, but crueller still to older people living on very meagre pensions and those who depend on their children to support them,” Mr Georganas told parliament. When speaking to Neos Kosmos, he recalls an elderly Greek gentleman he met at the centre. Mr Georganas struck up a conversation with the pensioner who said his 300 euro a month pension only covers his rent and bills and leaves him with no money to eat. When asked if his pension was cut due to the crisis, the elderly gent said no, but that previously he had relied on the handouts from his two sons who have found themselves unemployed due to the crisis. He is now one of the many Greeks reliant on these centres for sustenance, food and health treatments. Mr Georganas said there were well over 500 people at the centre when he arrived around 3:00 pm and said that although most were foreigners there were many Greeks too. “The majority were foreigners, refugees. What they do is they give them some food, they make sure their health is okay,” he explains. “When we were there, just a few days beforehand they had run out of food, so they put a call out on all television channels for staples, like rice, spaghetti – things that last and within days they filled their warehouse up again and this happens regularly. He said the Greek people respond rapidly to requests by the centre. But was quick to point out the assistance of the diaspora. This year, through fundraising in the community, the Archdiocese of Australia raised over $320,000 for the centre and sent the money directly to the Athens council for assistance in these homeless centres. “What we saw there was both uplifting, because of the enormous energy by volunteers to assist, but very deeply sorrowful as well,” Mr Georganas salast_img read more