10 Situations When You'll Need To Know About Athens Walking Tours

As a primary school principal, Leonidas Nikas is utilized to seeing children play, laugh and dream about the future. However recently he has actually seen something completely various, something he thought was impossible in Greece: children picking through school trash cans for food; clingy youngsters asking playmates for leftovers; and an 11-year-old boy, Pantelis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.

" He had actually consumed nearly absolutely nothing at home," Mr. Nikas said, being in his cramped school office near the port of Piraeus, a working-class residential area of Athens, as the sound of a jump rope skittered across the play area. He challenged Pantelis's parents, who were ashamed and embarrassed however admitted that they had actually not had the ability to discover work for months. Their cost savings were gone, and they were living on rations of pasta and catsup.

" Not in my wildest dreams would I anticipate to see the circumstance we remain in," Mr. Nikas stated. "We have actually reached a point where children in Greece are coming to school starving. Today, households have difficulties not just of work, but of survival."

The Greek economy is in totally free fall, having diminished by 20 percent in the past five years. The unemployment rate is more than 27 percent, the greatest in Europe, and 6 of 10 task hunters state they have not operated in more than a year. Those dry statistics are reshaping the lives of Greek families with children, more of whom are arriving at schools starving or underfed, even malnourished, according to personal groups and the government itself.

In 2015, an approximated 10 percent of Greek elementary and intermediate school students struggled with what public health professionals call "food insecurity," indicating they dealt with appetite or the danger of it, said Dr. Athena Linos, a professor at the University of Athens Medical School who also heads a food help program at Prolepsis, a nongovernmental public health group that has studied the situation. "When it concerns food insecurity, Greece has actually now been up to the level of some African countries," she stated.

Unlike those in the United States, Greek schools do not provide subsidized snack bar lunches. Students bring their own food or purchase products from a canteen. The cost has become insurmountable for some households with little or no income. Their problems have actually been intensified by new austerity procedures demanded by Greece's lenders, including higher electricity taxes and cuts in aids for large households. As a result, moms and dads without work are seeing their savings and advantages quickly vanish.

" All around me I hear kids stating: 'My moms and dads don't have any loan. We do not know what we are going to do,'" said Evangelia Karakaxa, an active 15-year-old at the No. 9 junior high in Acharnes.

Acharnes, a working-class town amongst the mountains of Attica, was bustling with activity from imports up until the economic crisis erased countless factory jobs.

Now, numerous of Evangelia's classmates are frequently hungry, she said, and one young boy just recently passed out. Some kids were starting to take for food, she added. While she does not excuse it, she understands their predicament. "Those who are well fed will never ever understand those who are not," she stated.

" Our dreams are crushed," included Evangelia, whose parents are out of work however who is not in the very same dire situation as her peers. She stopped briefly, then continued in a low voice. "They state that when you drown, your life flashes before your eyes. My sense is that in Greece, we are drowning on dry land."

Alexandra Perri, who works at the school, said that a minimum of 60 of the 280 trainees struggled with malnutrition. Children who as soon as possessed sugary foods and meat now talk of eating boiled macaroni, lentils, rice or potatoes. "The most affordable stuff," Ms. Perri said.

This year the number of malnutrition cases leapt. "A year earlier, it wasn't like this," Ms. Perri, stated, fighting back tears. "What's frightening is the speed at which it is taking place."

The federal government, which at first dismissed the reports as exaggerations, just recently acknowledged that it needed to deal with the problem of poor nutrition in schools. But with top priorities put on paying back bailout funds, there is little money in Greek coffers to cope.

Mr. Nikas, the principal, said he knew that the Greek federal athens to karpenisi government was laboring to repair the economy. Now that talk of Greece's exiting the euro zone has disappeared, things look better to the outside world. "However tell that to the household of Pantelis," he stated. "They don't feel the enhancement in their lives."

In the household's dark apartment or condo near the school, Themelina Petrakis, Pantelis's mom, opened her fridge and cupboards one recent weekend. Inside was bit more than a few bottles of ketchup and other condiments, some macaroni and leftovers from a meal she had actually obtained from the city center.

The household was succeeding and was even assisting others in requirement until in 2015. The Petrakises had the ability to pay for a spacious apartment or condo with a flat-screen TV and a PlayStation.

Then her other half, Michalis, 41, was laid off from his shipping job in December. He stated the company had not paid his incomes for five months before that. The couple might no longer pay for rent, and by February they had lacked loan.

" When the principal called, I needed to inform him, 'We don't have food,'" stated Ms. Petrakis, 36, nestling Pantelis's head as he cast his eyes to the ground.

Mr. Petrakis stated he felt emasculated after consistently failing to find new work. When food for the household ran low, he stopped consuming almost totally, and rapidly slimmed down.

" When I was working last summer, I even got rid of excess bread," he said, tears streaming down his face. "Now, I sit here with a war going through my head, trying to determine how we will live."

When the appetite comes, Ms. Petrakis has a solution. "It's basic," she said. "You get starving, you get woozy and you sleep it off."

A 2012 Unicef report revealed that among the poorest Greek homes with kids, more than 26 percent had an "financially weak diet plan." The phenomenon has actually hit immigrants hardest however is spreading rapidly amongst Greeks in metropolitan areas where one or both moms and dads are efficiently completely out of work.

In backwoods, individuals can a minimum of grow food. But that is not enough to eliminate the problem. An hour's drive northwest of Athens, in the industrial town of Asproprigos, Nicos Tsoufar, 42, looked vacantly ahead as he sat in the middle school that his 3 children attend. The school gets lunches from a program run by Prolepsis, the public health group. Mr. Tsoufar said his kids frantically required the meals.

He has not found work for three years. Now, he said, his household is residing on what he called a "cabbage-based diet," which it supplements by foraging for snails in nearby fields. "I understand you can't cover dietary fundamentals with cabbage," he said bitterly. "However there's no alternative."

The government and groups like Prolepsis are doing what they can. Last year, Prolepsis started a pilot program supplying a sandwich, fruit and milk at 34 public schools where more than half of the 6,400 families taking part said they had actually experienced "medium to serious cravings."

After the program, what to do in athens that portion dropped to 41 percent. Financed by an $8 million grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, a global philanthropic company, the program was expanded this year to cover 20,000 kids at 120 schools.

Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos, Greece's education minister, stated the government had actually secured European Union funding to offer fruit and milk in schools, and coupons for bread and cheese. It is also dealing with the Greek Orthodox Church to offer thousands of care plans. "It is the least we can do in this difficult financial scenario," he said.

Mr. Nikas, the principal at 11-year-old Pantelis's school, has actually taken matters into his own hands and is arranging food drives at the school. He is mad at what he views as more comprehensive overlook of Greece's problems by Europe.

" I'm not stating we should just await others to help us," he stated. "However unless the European Union imitates this school, where households help other families because we're one big household, we're provided for."