Series : Greece – Youth without Hope Athens, Greece - 2016

Young people in Greece dream about Berlin, London, or Madrid-but no longer about Athens or Thessaloniki. For years, they have gone out on the streets and campaigned for better living conditions in the so-called "financial crisis". The crisis permeated the whole society-but the youth feel it the most. They bear the burden of the government's neo-liberal reform packages while becoming independent from their parents. It seems, however, that they became resigned in their struggle for political change after the election of Tsipras as the president of the Mediterranean country. In November 2016, the former US President Barack Obama visited his Greek colleague Tsipras with a message to bring hope to the Greek people. He campaigned for a debt cut. This is a good time to ask the following questions:
How is the youth dealing with the deeply challenging situation? Are they thinking about migrating to central Europe? Is there hope for collective change?
We met with nurses, students, demonstrators, anarchists, and the resigned citizens of Athens, and talked to them about the future that nobody wants to talk about.
A young Greek couple takes pictures in front of the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos in the historical center of Athens.
Elsa Zarri (20) studies economics in Athens. She says: “In Greece, when you are 16 years old, you have to decide your future profession and the path of your life very early by choosing your school subjects. At the time, I thought that with economics, I have a safe job and can deal with interesting topics. My parents completely supported in my path, but they have already seen that economics does not suit me. This summer, I will apply to the state drama school to try another career line as an actress. I like Athens very much and would like to stay here. My parents have shown me a lot of optimism, but paying for me in Athens is not easy. I voted for Alexis Tsipras of Syriza in the last election; I am now ashamed of it. He and his party have totally disappointed me.”
The police dissolved a demonstration against Barack Obama's visit and Obama's politics only a few hundred meters after the start with tear gas and the use of batons. Any gathering in the city center was forbidden by the police.
Stauros Naselis (27) works as a baker. He says: “I've never earned so much money before. I'm still new in Athens and friends gave me this job in the bakery, where I earn 800 € per month with a lot of overtime. If I live with a friend in a shared flat, I can make ends meet. I used to train as a plumber, but I always worked in the restaurants-most of the time with tourists. I would like to go away, but you need at least € 2,000 for starting in another country and I don't have that. How am I supposed to save it? There's no future for me here in Greece.”
On November 15th, 2016, several thousand demonstrators marched through Athens. Powerful unions had called for protests against Obama and the austerity policy.
Marie Posa (18) studies psychology. She says: “I haven't attended a single lecture at the university yet. In the last year of my high school, I did nothing else but study for the entrance examination of the university. Now I need some rest. I chose psychology because I like working with people. Of course, I also looked at where to find a job. My grandparents, especially, put a lot of pressure on me. But I still want to preserve my youth and I don't look so much into the future. And since my parents support me, I can also allow myself this. I still have to live with them and there is no possibility of moving out from home.”
The demonstrators retreat to the anarchistic Exarchia District, where fierce street battles rage between the police and the protestors.
David Cruz (30) tries to survive in Athens. He says: “I dropped out of school to become a professional footballer, but it's totally screwed up. I could live on it for a few years, but then, I couldn't find a club anymore. Then, I took every job that came in. I worked as a waiter for a long time. In summertime, I live on one of the islands and work there as a bartender. And in winter, I'm in Athens, living off what I can find. I'll probably have to go out on the street soon to get through the winter. I would like to start a family and return to the Dominican Republic, but I have to earn some money for that. Maybe I'll go to Spain, where I can at least speak the language.”
Xrysianna Papakonstantinou (29) works as a nurse. She says: “I only started to study nursing at the University of Applied Sciences when I was 23 years old. Prior to that, I used to work and was very politically active. I grew up with a lot of idealism-my father is a diplomat in Brussels and is constantly travelling abroad. After school, I organized demonstrations and worked at grass-roots level. But what have we achieved? I am 29 years old and I still live with my mother. If I work as a nurse here in Athens, I get €500 per month; how am I supposed to make a living from it? Next month, I will move to London and start working as a nurse there. There is no future here in Athens; the intellectuals and the educated people are all leaving Greece. And those who stay, become lonelier as they do not have any money to go out. Anyone under 30, who can feed himself, has got a good job through his parent's contacts or has been really lucky - because almost all my friends still live with their parents.”
Christoforos Constantinou (22) wants to fight corruption in Cyprus. He says: “I lived on the street for three days in my youth because I wanted to know what it's like. This experience has had a great effect in shaping me because I have learned how people are doing outside the system. I grew up in Cyprus and I have been working there for the last two years. With the money I saved, I moved to Athens to study. With a Master's degree in Economic Criminology, I would like to return to my home country and dedicate myself to fighting corruption. There is still hope for a better future, but here, in Athens, the sky is really dark. I'd rather go back to Cyprus.”
Two Greeks teenagers play the guitar in the historical center of Athens on a Friday morning. Many young adults try to finance their lives with street music.

This is the end, my friend ...

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