In 2008, when Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and other large American banking institutions struggled to stay afloat, Greeks thought their economy was secure. Their country hadn’t bought any toxic assets, and they comfortably watched the news of the U.S. economic meltdown on television.
A year later, the financial crisis hit Europe and Greece was in the eye of the storm. Today, Greeks are facing the worst humanitarian crisis that any country in Western Europe has faced since the end of the Second World War. The destruction of Greek industries has resulted in unemployment levels of up to 27 percent and youth unemployment of 65 percent. Millions of jobs have been lost and thousands of businesses have closed.
“ΧΑΟΣ” is the ancient Greek word for chaos, which is also the perfect word to describe the situation that the country is now experiencing, ten years after the crisis started.
What make this story unique for me, is that it’s the first crisis that I cover in my own country. Throughout my carrier I usually travel to warzones and third world countries to shed light to untold stories. Since 2007 though, when economic growth stopped in Greece, I’ve turned my focus to stories in my homecountry.
I’ve seen friends and family that have worked hard throughout their lives to afford a middle class life to lose their jobs, lose their homes, and end up with nothing else other than desperation. There’s no social welfare anymore, family bonds have been disrupted, and people are left alone to battle for their survival and their depression.
I’m trying to tell this story because the majority of the European and American media only stayed with the stereotypes of “the lazy Greeks that spent too much”, without talking about the real causes and the real effects this crisis is having to the people. As the European Union and the Greek government is advertising what they call a success story, most media also have adopted this rhetoric, believing that things have gotten better. But the truth is that not all numbers are telling the truth. The government is presenting a surplus for the first time in seven years, despite that it owns to businesses almost 10 billion euros in tax returns, a number bigger than it’s surplus, and despite that there’s no healthcare for 1/3 of the population that is uninsured.