The Story of Helena Dritsa
ATHENS, Greece June 2012
The Story of Helena Dritsa:
Age undisclosed, Unemployed
I met Helena and her daughter Polina also at the Dimos centre for homeless, and also in this case, like with Afroditi, it was Helena speaking to me first.
It seemed like Helena needed to talk, and she did indeed. The expression on her face suggests anger and frustration, at times turning into sudden madness, against a system that let her and her two kids down.
Also her husband let themfamily down. After 20 years of domestic violence, he left the family as soon as their youngest son Kostas was born 21 years ago.
Helena didn’t want to state her age, but Polina is 27 and Kostas, with special conditions caused by a partial brain damage from birth is now 21 years old. They live is a semi-basement of an anonymous building near one of the main arteries of the northern part of Athens, the Alexandras. The house is tiny, messy and packed with tapestries, old photos, crosses and a lot of medications!
“We are not able to cope with this situation any longer!” Helena cries “We have to manage in three with €620 every two months and they have just added a Mafia-like tax on our Electricity bill, which we have to pay if we don’t want to stay in the dark!!”
Kostas doesn’t come out from the house, because of his condition, but he has learned English via the internet and translates what his mother screams out loud to me.
Kostas says “They will bring our income support down and I don’t think my mother will be any longer able to afford my medications… we have nothing!”
Helena carries on “ I would kill bloody Merkel!! I would kill those responsible for this crisis too!! They ate everything, the Greek government has taken all from us and we are desperate now!”
She claims that Greek population is the victim of a nation wide scam and that because of that now the world thinks all Greek are lazy “…But we are a people of heroes, we fought wars and sacrificed all we had for this country…Please Mimi tell the world we’re heroes..!” and she hands me a copy of a letter her grandfather sent to his wife while he was a prisoner of war in 1940.
Polina, a beautiful looking young woman, says “We have no one, we have no friends, we are alone!”
Their house consists of one room where they have their three beds, one table and bench and a drawer full of stuff. A tiny kitchen cannot host the fridge that is placed beside the beds and the toilet is essential and doubles as a storage space.
The house was given by Helena’s mother who died 6 months before. This is the only thing they have.