Let the little children come to me

Posted on January 11, 2012 by

Business Insider gives a rundown of the rotten state of Greece. While Germany turns into Europe’s debt collectors, the Greek people are suffering horribly under the weight of draconian austerity measures. Why is a country that cannot afford to feed and house its people honoring its debts to the banksters? How long before the Greeks finally tell them to “shove it”?

Although tight community and family bonds are protecting the destitute in the more rural areas, the Orthodox Church in Athens is reporting an increase in foundlings. Charities that were set up to provide a home for children from dysfunctional parents are appalled at the requests they are receiving from loving and caring parents.

One morning a few weeks before Christmas a kindergarten teacher in Athens found a note about one of her four-year-old pupils.

“I will not be coming to pick up Anna today because I cannot afford to look after her,” it read. “Please take good care of her. Sorry. Her mother.”

In the last two months Father Antonios, a young Orthodox priest who runs a youth centre for the city’s poor, has found four children on his doorstep – including a baby just days old.

Another charity was approached by a couple whose twin babies were in hospital being treated for malnutrition, because the mother herself was malnourished and unable to breastfeed.

Cases like this are shocking a country where family ties are strong, and failure to look after children is socially unacceptable – they feel to Greeks like stories from the Third World, rather than their own capital city.

In related news, Greek suicides are up 40% from last year.

Before the financial crisis first began to bite three years ago, Greece had the lowest suicide rate in Europe at 2.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. It now has almost double that number. Attempted suicides have also increased. While the country’s suicide level is still among the lowest in Europe in absolute terms, the ministry’s reported rate of increase has come about despite the stigma attached to suicide in a country where the Orthodox church refuses funeral rights for those who take their lives.

“It’s never just one thing, but almost always debts, joblessness, the fear of being fired are cited when people phone in to say they are contemplating ending their lives,” said Eleni Beikari, a psychiatrist at the non-governmental organisation, Klimaka, which runs a 24-hour suicide hotline.

Klimaka received around 10 calls a day before the crisis; it now gets more than 100 in any 24-hour period.