Kids Abandoned in Greece Crisis

Kids Abandoned in Greece CrisisKids Abandoned in Greece Crisis

The president of Greece’s largest children’s charity says his organization is running out of money because of the economic crisis.

Kostas Giannopoulous said refuge homes in Athens might need to close within months because people and companies can no longer afford to give money to charities.

“I would never dare to think we would do that. So that’s why we try very hard to persuade people, and Greeks from overseas (to donate),” he said.

“It’s devastating as 380 children are expecting us to continue their lives, so there is no way we can abandon them for a second time,” he told Sky News.

Giannopoulous used to own two successful IT companies. He started the Smile of the Child Charity at the request of his five-year-old son who died from cancer 20 years ago.

The charity has 11 homes across Athens, a national 24-hour helpline and mobile medical units. They look after 350 children full time.

Some of Greece’s children are abandoned because their parents cannot afford to raise them. Most go into care because their parents have turned to alcohol or drugs, or they have become violent.

In one case, a father committed suicide earlier this month, leaving three young children without a parent.

The Elena Venizelou Hospital is one of three state-run maternity hospitals in Athens. In a small room off a corridor on the first floor, a small team of nurses care for the babies who have been abandoned. They sleep two to a room in cots.

The nurses are very protective of their charges: they do not just give them round-the-clock care. They are everything the babies know and have. The hospital will look after these babies until they are six months old. They will then be handed to the care of a state orphanage if their parents are not found. Most are not found.

“This problem has increased,” said hospital director Ilias Dalainas.

“Many women give birth here and then just leave the hospital, leaving their child here for us to look after. One reason is that there are mothers who believe they can’t bring up their child so they leave them here.”

“The other reason is because of the wave of immigrants. They use Greece as a bridge to go to another country. They’re pregnant, have a child, and then just leave.”

These children are the human consequence of the economic crisis: Greece’s unwanted children, abandoned because of a crisis that began before they were even born.