Greece’s children pay the price of the prolonged economic crisis, as a shelter for abused children is now taking in those whose parents are unable to provide food for them, a Reuters report says.
As one fourth of the country’s workforce is without a job and one in four children live in poverty, according to United Nations figures, parents are forced to seek help from charity organizations and institutions.
In Athens, the Model National Nursery, which was established to shelter orphans of war a century ago, has now turned into a home for children whose parents can not afford to provide even the basics, such as a daily meal. Poor parents, leave their children there for the whole week.
Iro Zervaki, the director of the children’s home, told Reuters that at least 40 children are on the waiting list, four times as many as two years ago.
The Model National Nursery houses 25 children aged two to five in a bare room with rows of beds and lacks the staff and funds to increase capacity, Zervaki said. Most places are for abused children.
“We had incidents where children even attempted to leave, to run away, to go to their mother,” Zervaki said. Their parents take them for the weekend, but there are cases when they can not even afford to do that.
“We have children whose parents are homeless so it’s very difficult for them to even collect them for the weekend,” said social worker Anthoula Zarmakoupi. In other cases, the children wait eagerly for Friday, when they get to see their mothers.
According to Zervaki, state funding for the home has been cut and covers just half of the staff’s wages, forcing them to depend on donations for food and clothes. But the director is not too optimistic.
“It doesn’t look like tomorrow will be any better,” Zervaki said. “It will take some years. I hope not too many.”