Things aren’t quite looking up for Greece. Ever since the debt crisis of 2009, things have steadily gotten worse. Regular citizens with jobs and homes, who never had a problem finding employment, are now finding themselves sleeping in boxes and under bridges with no sign of hope in the future. Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost in Greece and the national unemployment rate soared to 18.4% in August, during the peak of tourism season. Worse yet, is number of unemployed and now hopeless Greeks. Over 20,000 Greeks have been seeking refuge under bridges and highway overpasses.
Most of us know the story, Greece’s national debt got out of control and they relied on billions of euros in international rescue loans to avoid bankruptcy and the collapse of their economy. Greece’s government slashed pensions and salaries, and raised taxes on nearly everything from food to income to property. Furthermore, Greece’s economy is expected to contract by 5.5% this year and will be heading into their fourth year of recession come January.
With unemployment rates at their all-time high, thousands of Greeks now rely on food handouts. One of the biggest soup kitchens is now ironically located on a street that was synonymous with the Athens Stock Exchange in 2007. This soup kitchen alone feeds anywhere from 2,500-3,000 people a day. Some are homeless and jobless and others are just barely keeping a roof over their head, and wouldn’t be able to eat without the help of the soup kitchen. It’s a drastic change for many Greeks, as many unemployed and homeless citizens were thriving just a few years ago, but lost jobs and businesses and are now finding themselves receiving help instead of giving it.
To make things worse, life on the street can create even more problems for these Greeks. As the winter season is rolling in, the weather is near freezing. Hopeless people are spending their last euros on cheap wine and alcohol to bear the temperatures. Others have had a weakened immune system from living on the streets, sending them to the hospital regularly. It’s in no way an ideal situation. While friends and family have been able to take each other in, not everyone has been so lucky.
What’s next for Greece? What we know for now is that their government debt will reach 161% of the country’s GDP at $470 billion. Can there be hope in bankruptcy for the citizens of Greece?