The crisis through the eyes of middle-school students
By Apostolos Lakasas
“If I were to paint a picture of how I feel, it would be black and show a homeless person begging and crying,” said Dimitris.
“The biggest problem is that our politicians are bad and instead of making things better, they are making them worse,” said Constantinos.
Dimitris and Constantinos are both middle-school students in Kalamaria, a suburb of Thessaloniki, who participated in a program designed by the parent-teacher association (PTA) to gauge how the children were experiencing the economic crisis and what they thought about fixing it.
“The children recorded their thoughts, either in a literary or descriptive way, or in a more technical manner, and I must say they were very interesting,” said Dimitris Madras, head of the PTA and an economics professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Eva wrote in her essay: “Once upon a time there was a country that had all that was good. The people were brave, ambitious, kind and hardworking. Slowly, though, they began to steal, not to work as hard; they became greedy. The politicians used tricks to make the people vote for them. Other countries, seeing the mess, began to take advantage of them. Many people lost their jobs and no longer had the basics; no longer had a home.”
“The economic crisis comes with a moral and social crisis,” said Kyriaki. “The most important is the moral crisis.”
“Some people take advantage of others. These are the politicians,” added Thodoris.
“There are people who are hungry and others are sick and cannot afford medicine. There are food lines. This is what the fools who keep cutting salaries to pay their debts have brought us to. But they will never be able to pay their debts,” was Olga’s assessment.
For Proteas, “the crisis means poverty, unemployment, people who can’t live.”
In Mariliza’s eyes, “children are suffering because they can’t have the toys, food and knowledge that they need to build a foundation for the future.”
For Vangelis, “the crisis is a black page in the country’s history, but it will be overcome soon.”
As far as their suggestions go, Haralambos proposes that children should not ask for so much, should not keep wanting more and putting their parents in a difficult spot.
Vangelis thinks that everyone should spend less money and stop going out so often, while Yiannis suggests that politicians should pay more taxes and Kika says that the rich should also pay more taxes than the poor.
Christos suggests that Greece should not import any goods that can be found here and, in the same vein, Anastasis want to see better use of the country’s natural wealth, its seas and its history, so that tourism can bring in more revenues.
Theofanis wants to see more Greek exports, like ouzo and feta, while Stelios believes that the country should expand into new agricultural products and take better advantages of its wind, water and solar energy potential.
“We need to give more opportunities to young businessmen, to export more, to emphasize the growth of tourism and to reduce taxes a bit,” said Anastasis.
“We need to find jobs for educated people so they don’t go abroad, because they are the country’s hope,” added Panayiotis, while Constantinos said, “We should take the money Germany owes us, pay off our creditors and manage the rest wisely so that we can rebuild a new Greece.”
“We need to return to our old values. We need to fill our hearts with love and hope and our minds with optimism. We can’t let anyone break our tomorrow,” said Despina.