Mothers forced to sell their children: Mail reveals the distressing human toll of Greece’s Euro meltdown
12 May 2012
The economic crisis across Europe has perhaps been most keenly felt in Greece, where people have taken to the streets in violent and emotional protests against the austeriy measures imposed on the nation.
In this heartbreaking dispatch from the streets of Athens, SUE REID finds mothers who have been forced to sell their own children in the battle for survival.
Once a month, usually on a Saturday, Kasiani Papadopoulou packs a bag with children’s presents and takes the bus from her one-bedroom flat in a dusty suburb of Athens up into the cool hills outside the Greek capital that overlook the sea.
The 20-mile journey is an emotional one for her, but she would not stop making it for anything in the world.
A young widow of 30, she travels to see her two daughters and son — aged 14, 13 and 12. Kasiani was forced to give them away a year ago when her money ran out and she was unable to pay for their food, her rent or send them to school with shoes or books.
At the charity home where the three are now cared for, the children excitedly shout ‘Mama’ as they run down the steps to greet her. Her eldest daughter, Ianthe, hugs her tightly and gives her a kiss.
When, a few hours later, it is time to say goodbye, Kasiani is always close to tears. The youngest, Melissa and Markos, cling to her before she leaves to go home alone.
‘It is not easy for a mother to leave her kids,’ she says to me, her voice cracking with emotion when I spoke to her this week in Athens.
‘At Christmas, at Easter, on their birthdays, I am always so sad because I do not see them. Some people judge me over what I’ve done — even my own family and neighbours — but they do not understand the truth. I’ve done what is best for my children.
‘I cannot count the number of doorbells I have rung of government departments, asking officials to help me and my family. They make promises but do nothing. They have no money either. Our country is in crisis.’