“The lockdown was a rough patch for us, because we closed the dairy. We sell our products mainly on the local market and hope that the situation will get better and the tourism will return to some extent, allowing us to sell.”
Giorgos Syrianos, Cheesemaker and Livestock Breeder in Mykonos
“As soon as I came here, the coronavirus appeared too. Then I said to myself that I had to do something about it, or I would lose my mind. So I decided to offer free English language lessons to the refugees that are trapped here”
“When they bombarded my home, five people were killed and I was treated at the hospital of Ntara for two months. When I saw I had lost both my legs, I decided to continue my life with even greater passion and strength than before.”
Naji Albader met Baraa six months ago at Kos refugee camp. They got married there. They dream of continuing their journey to England after the end of the pandemic.
Empty chairs placed at Syntagma square, as part of the “EMPTY CHAIRS” European protest of people in the catering and tourism industry protesting about the consequences of the new coronavirus pandemic in their sector, Athens, 6 May 2020.
“At this time, the beginning of the summer season, the airport would be bursting with life. Millions of visitors from around the world would come to Athens and we were getting ready to welcome them”
Senior agent at Airport Information, Maria Iatrou, at the info desk in Athens International airport, during the restrictive measures for flights, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Athens 9 May 2020.
“The airport was so empty of passengers only in the days before its inauguration, in 2001. Only, back then, the feelings were the opposite: there was joy and suspense”
Christina Kanaki, Terminal Operations Supervisor in the empty departure lounge in Athens International Airport, during the restrictive measures for flights, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Athens 9 May 2020.
“Coronavirus hit Sudan later than Greece and to this day there is a significant increase in the number of cases and deaths. Thanks to technology I can talk with my relatives there everyday and try to pass them on my knowledge and experience to help them protect themselves against the pandemic”
Abdelrasoul Mahmoud, 34 y.o., Sudanese born in Greece – doctor
“Judging from how things are in Afghanistan, I understand that the coronavirus is common for us all; it knows no continents and borders. People in my country are afraid, because the health system is in a really bad state”
Naseeruddin Nijami, 34 y.o., recognised refugee from Afghanistan
“At first, none had realised the severity of coronavirus in Iran. For a long period, no measures were taken and we had thousands of victims. I speak with my family everyday and I tell them to stay home, to wash their hands. We must apply the rules evewhere. Our planet is like a ship and we are the passengers; we will either make it together, or sink together"
“As in Greece, people in my country too are worried about the economic crisis, because businesses are not doing too well. Many students are at risk of dropping out of universities, as they cannot afford their tuition fees”
“Coronavirus has spread really fast in Turkey. This made me very worried about my family, especially my dad, who is diabetic and has a heart condition. My parents found it difficult to stay at home, because they come from the working class and have learnt to work for their survival”
“We have no actual information about the real number of coronavirus deaths in Syria. The pandemic added yet another survival problem to our people, on top of war, hunger and our destroyed health system”
“I talk with my family in Ivory Coast everyday. However, I am concerned about those who have to go to work and are at risk of catching the disease. We want to help everyone, in Greece too. This is why we collect essentials to offer them”
Moussa Sangare, 30 y.o., and Aicha Traore, 26 y.o., Immigrants from Ivory Coast
“The first week was very hard; there was lots of fear, hysterics and panic. We knew it right from the start that there would be shortages, so we applied purchase restrictions for disinfectants and masks.”
“When I submitted my application to work at the National Emergency Aid Centre (EKAB), following a call by the Minister of Health, I told my friends that “we are going to war”
National Emergency Aid Centre Rescuers Konstantina Papachristodoulou (L), 39 y.o. and Thomas Koulakiotis, 48 y.o., in an ambulance at the EKAB operation centre, 11 April 2020. Thomas Koulakiotis is married and has one child. He has been working as a rescuer in the private sector for the past seven years. When the Minister of Health called for doctors and nursing staff to be hired to deal with the pandemic, he applied and belongs to the first lot of those thrown into the battle against the coronavirus. He started working at EKAB on 1 April 2020.
“Now with the epidemic, in addition to helping my mother with all errands, I also deliver groceries free of charge for many customers who cannot leave their house because they belong to vulnerable groups or because they are scared.”
Dimitris Zaros, 25 y.o., Delivery Service Employee
“I feel proud to be a part of the campaign against the spread of covid”
Nikoletta Iliopoulou, 34 y.o., Municipality of Athens Disinfection unit.
She was appointed at the municipality two years ago, under the procedure of the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP). She is married, with three children.
“Will you get me a bag? And pencils to go to school!”
Panagiota doesn’t know exactly how old she is. She says she is five or maybe six. Moreover, she has never gone to school. She lives in the Roma slums of Nea Zoi in Aspropirgos with her deaf grandmother. She plays barefoot in the muddy waters and the rubbish of the slum and dreams that, some day, someone will give her a bag and pencils so that she can go to school too.
“Nobody ever comes here. Now, with the coronavirus, we will die like flies, forgotten. It is our fate to live next to the landfill and in the trash”
Angeliki Papadimitriou is 59 y.o., diabetic. She lives with her husband and her great-grandchildren in the Roma slums of Nea Zoi in Aspropirgos. Because of the lockdown, no one can go to work and face a serious problem of survival.
“What are we going to do now that we can't go around for scrap? Where are we going to get food from? I don’t know why we stay in and what this disease is all about. Nobody has come here to help us. Nobody has told us anything. All we know is what we hear on TV. We are scared”
Panagiotis Tsiriklos was born in 1943 in Theva. About 15 years ago, he came to Nea Zoi in Aspropirgos, thinking that the capital would offer more opportunities for himself and his ten children. He was wrong.
“We try to do what they tell us to on the telly. We try to be clean. But what can you do? Look down, the shack has no cement. So what if we wash ourselves? A moment later we are covered in dirt again”
Maria Dionysopoulou has two children and lives in a shack made of concrete blocks, wooden beams and polyester sheets in Nea Zoi of Aspropirgos. Every night, she heats water on the camping stove, moves a tub in the middle of the shack and bathes her children.
“I am a diabetic and I’m scared I may get this damned disease. What do we eat everyday? Just bread.”
In the last month, twice a week, Mpampis Mpekos wakes up at 3 in the morning. He wears his cloth mask and gets in the car, heading for the centre of Athens. There, a baker gives him the bread that was not sold in the previous days.
“If he gets the disease, what am I going to do with him? How am I to take him to the hospital? No ambulance or doctor ever gets to Nea Zoi”
Georgia Halilopoulou, 88 y.o. today, came from Thiva to Nea Zoi in Aspropirgos, with the hope of a better life. She is not so much worried about herself, as she is for her son who had been suffering from asthma attacks over the last year.
“It looks like a simple clasping of the hand, but it’s so much more. It is the moment that a COVID-19 patient is awakened from sedation. It is the moment when you know that you and your team with stand proudly before the patient and their loved ones. It is the moment that gives meaning to everything you fought for.
A COVID-19 patient is awakened from sedation (people call it “induced coma”) and holds the doctor’s hand tightly.
“Sometimes, you know that a patient’s condition is beyond your skills to reverse it. Realistically, this means that may be you should have let go. Yet, you’re still there, fighting. Even you get no direct results, you know that the knowledge gained will be life-saving for others”
An intensive care specialist makes a last attempt to resuscitate a COVID-19 patient, who died a few hours later. He knows that this attempt has negligible chances for success, but feels that this is the least he can do for someone dying – and for himself.
Nurses Maria Tsamouri (M), Taimpa-Naz Riaz (L) and Iordana Moskofi (R), pose behind the glass separating the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), touching the hand reflections of doctors Giorgos Dimopoulos (R) and Dimitris Konstantonis (R), at the hospital “Attico” in Haidari, on 15 April 2020. Giorgos Dimopoulos is an intensive care medicine professor at the University of Athens, head of the coronavirus unit at “Attico” Hospital. He is married, with children.
“It's hard to not see your loved ones, your family, or to have to be out to protect them as well as everybody else in Attica”.
Sergeant Stergios Kakarontzas (L), 28 y.o. and constable Charalambos Baylis (R), 26 y.o., pose in front of the Parliament, Athens, 12 April 2020. Stergios Kakarontzas in not married and lives by himself.
“My friends say I’m a hero, but I don’t feel like a hero; I’m just doing my job and what I really love”
National Emergency Aid Centre (EKAB) Rescuer, Konstantina Papachristodoulou (L), 39 y.o., poses in an ambulance at the operation centre of EKAB, 11 April 2020. Katerina Papachristodoulou is married to a National Emergency Aid Centre (EKAB) rescuer and has one child.