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An open letter from a 62 year-old Greek homeless
by Thanos Kalamidas
2013-12-13 10:15:37
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Before continuing I have to apologize because I cannot translate the following text from Greek to English. My difficulty is not falling into the lack of vocabulary or the difficulties of the Greek language but into the essence of transmitting the feelings that literally possess the following text. An open letter from a 62 year-old Greek homeless.

This is where I stop. To me this says everything. A 62 year-old Greek homeless. A victim of the recession to such a point that he’s fighting for the only thing left to him, his dignity. And he tries to motivate himself through forgiveness and this dignity to stand up and even hope.

home01_400Instead of translating I would like you to imagine yourself unemployed and homeless in your 62 because ...somebody somewhere wanted to increase his or her profits playing games with a currency or because politicians, a state, the organized society has failed in their constitutional and democratic obligation to protect this man.

But first let him talk about himself:

I was born in Athens on 27 October 1951, in a middle-class family and studied classical guitar and computers.

I got married at my 22 and I have a daughter. I started working at a known record company in late 1974 till early 1979. After that I continued working as a musician (guitar) until 1990. At the same time and from 1984 till 2001, I worked as a radio producer for the Greek National Radio (ERA).

Having computer studies I worked for the Athens University from 1998 until 2000, responsible for the computer lab. 2001 to 2006, I worked as IT Manager, for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under contract.

Since 2007 I am unemployed, but with part time employments I managed to survive until 2010.

With the start of the financial downturn it became impossible, especially due to my age, to find a secure job with a fixed salary. Not able to cope with my monthly expenses I became homeless in 2011 and I remain in this state until today.

From 2011 until the summer of 2012 I was hosted in a homeless shelter. But I decided that I have to get back to life, leaving the shelter.

Now I’m housed temporarily from a friendly family and trying hard to find a job, so not to be a weight to anyone and I get a place to live.

I believe that I still have life and future. And I try to start a new life. I do not know if I can handle it, but it’s definitely worth the effort....

George Barkouris

As I said in the beginning I don’t feel the right person to “translate” his text, even though I was honoured to be chosen from him to publish his open letter. What I can do is translate some quotes from his text hoping that you can feel both, his sorrow and his determination to help. And by help he means help himself and help others!

“…we are not stray dogs to put us in cages or photograph us in the streets, under bridges or public seats.”

“There are two ways to follow. To fall into oblivion, to “shut down” your sensations and your soul in an internal ice or rise and rebel against your own self

“And in the case of the oblivion you are lost in an existence of nothing, lost somewhere in time and space,

“Rebeling is not an easy act; you must do it with responsibility and accept help from somebody who will do it not from solidarity but from love. Because he/she was there for you for long time, because he/she knew you well, appreciated you …and you never understood that he/she was so close to you.

“Homeless is NOT a case, despite medical records, criminal record or dependencies. Might be dirty, smell badly, scary face, the wrong behaviour… or it might be somebody that when you see doesn’t look homeless because despite stereotypes is clean, smiling, active and creative; always dressed with dignity without medial record, criminal record or dependencies…

“All of them [the homeless] have something in common, they are humans …with personality, feelings, good and bad moods, love in their heart and sometimes little hate but with hope, soul and conscious.

“Most importantly they have loneliness and the pain that comes with loneliness…

“For all those please …don’t use him/her. Don’t cause more pain…

“and if you cannot offer something just look at him/her in the eyes, not with pity and mercy but with a smile and love …touch him/her …that all he/she needs to feel that he/she is not alone in the …streets."

George Barkouris has a Facebook page in a case you want to communicate wit his and simply “touch” him. He’s not very comfortable in English but …he has friends who will give a little help.

His Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barkouris.george?fref=ts


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Leah Sellers2013-12-14 09:32:49
Dear Broth Thanos,
Sir, you made me cry tears of joy/sorrow once again. Thank for the introduction to this Precious Soul.

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