"In photojournalistic reporting, inevitably, you’re an outsider.” / Henri CartierBresson
Accepting the inevitable nature of the outsider, I have nevertheless devoted the past 2 years in understanding and documenting the growing public health crisis that has overtaken the city of Athens, Greece.
In May 2010, Greece signed a threeyear agreement with the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank, imposing stiff austerity measures, and deep budget cuts in an effort to prevent the bankruptcy of the state.
Inside Greece, the financial crisis resulted in a tremendous change in society’s socioeconomic status – in the way the society is structured and the way it operates. This project began as an attempt to illustrate the emerging problem of homelessness in a country which has seen a rise in the number of homeless by 25% in the last two years alone. Only in Athens the number of people living in the streets is estimated to be over 27,000 individuals.
While investigating the homelessness in the streets of Athens, I discovered a tremendous change in the social/urban landscape: the sudden increase of drug users and the open, widespread, daytime use of narcotics in the streets of Athens. My involvement began in the simplest human interactions: offering medicine, treating infections, offering food, clothes, blankets, even offering to to pay for overnight stays in cheap hotels in order for them to have an opportunity to have a shower, a bed, watch TV. My hope was that this break from their daily routine, might trigger a change and offer a way out.
Behind the numbers and the statistics, behind the debt versus GDP ratio that have been the focus of the Greek crisis, there are those who are living out on the streets in extreme, harsh conditions. There is a great humanitarian and social cost that is being overlooked when attempting to understand and resolve the Greek crisis. The ultimate goal of this project is to draw attention to a growing humanitarian crisis that is festering in the shadow of an economic meltdown, and to draw attention to the current state policy of protecting public health by penalizing rather than treating the vulnerable social groups that have been branded as transmitters of disease.