The Villages of Old People



Pogoni“Our villages, breathe, are alive for 10 to 20 days in August and July, when those who live in Athens come. We get used to the people that come here, and then it’s difficult for us.”

With these simple words, the few residents of the border villages of Pogoni, describe the loneliness they experience in this part of Greece. The summer feasts that add color to their daily lives, the reunion of families living in the cities, the children’s voices in the neighborhood end with the arrival of autumn, which takes away their joy.

On the Greek border with Albania, reality in the beautiful stone built villages is depicted with characteristic examples.

Oreino, Xirovalto, Mavropoulo, Chrisodoli, Zavrocho, Teriachi, Ktismata, Neochorio, Charavgi, Agia Marina. The total number of permanent residents in these villages does not exceed 300. For three decades now, every village has a closed school. It is the place of the elderly who live near the Albanian border, where tough fights took place during the Greek-Italian War in 1940. This is why there’s a Memorial of the Fallen in every square in these villages.

In Oreino, the only resident is a woman. Her name is Sofia Dimitriou, she is a breeder and every day she goes out in the mountains with her flock. She is not afraid because she takes all the necessary precautions. In Neochorio, an elderly couple gives breath to the village, where the rest of the houses are closed.

In picturesque Teriachi, located 52 kilometers from Ioannina, within an August weekend, the three permanent residents of the village were left alone again. They are two pensioners, who are brothers, and the Municipal Counselor of Pogoni Nikos Galitsas, who returned back to his village from Athens after 45 years, as he stated to AMNA. The conversation with him reveals the situation in the  “20-days” villages, as he characterized the mountainous villages of the borders in Pogoni.

Although Galitsas retains his commercial activity in the capital, he decided to deal with politics, in order to help the people of the villages in Pogoni.

“The few elderly people keep the villages alive. They are heroes. They should be assisted by the state. They feel unprotected in their homes, because they often become victims of burglaries,” he said and added that it is a great satisfaction for him to help those in need and to carry their medicine to their home.

One of their problems is the feeling of insecurity, as there are many and repeated incidents of burglaries and robberies against the elderly in many of these villages.

Besides the safety issues, there are more issues that concern the residents, such as the objective values, PPC’s taxes, the planning of Freelancers’ Insurance Organization (OAEE), for those who have cafes in the villages.

When September comes, the elderly in Pogoni along with the beautiful summer memories wait for the difficult winter to pass. They try to cope with the situation, with plans and dreams for the next summer.