Soul Kitchen "O Allos Anthropos" | a reptrospective
*click on the image to initiate full screen presentation. [49 photos]
The social kitchen "O Allos Anthropos" (The Other Human) started when a group of friends in Greece, all of them recently unemployed, noticed people of different age, ethnicity, and class searching for a food in the left-overs of the farmers' markets in Athens. The first response of the group was to cook food at home and try to distribute for free at the day of the market. However people were not willing to accept such a charity. However this 'attitude' suddenly changed when the food offered has been shared and eaten together rather than just given away. Food was offered and shared with everyone, regardless race - ethnicity - religion - social status. Consequently the friends from “O Allos Anthropos” asked the merchants of the food market to donate one item from their food stall for the meal and instead of preparing the food at home, they started to cook and eat on site together with those in need.
In such a spirit, "O Allos Anthropos", got ridden of the feeling of shame, enhanced trust, confidence and social coherence, which otherwise mostly value money and power.
In this project I want to address and explore, through my images of the social kitchen "O Allos Anthropos", the crucial issue of the social coherence, values, and ties that keep society alive, despite of the social, spiritual and economical depression and uncertainty. Parallel to this project, I am conducting a comparative study by documenting a similar effort by NGO "Doroga k Domu" (The Way Home) in Odessa, Ukraine. The images of the project are the part of a three years journey and constant work, together with "O Allos Anthropos", in various locations around the city of Athens. The current social conditions in the city are important to be demonstrated in order to understand the degree of people's solidarity and the notions of collective and individual responsibility.
Over the past three years Greece has seen a tremendous rise in the number of homeless people. The issues of homelessness are especially visible in Athens, the capital and the largest city of Greece with estimated population of five million inhabitants, where a number of people living in the streets are estimated to be around twenty seven thousand. It is shocking how common this has become and how our perception has changed. If you saw a person sleeping on the streets of Athens ten years ago, chances were it would be one of a handful of known individuals who roamed the streets and were cared for by the neighborhood. No more. Now their numbers have swelled with social safety nets in danger of disintegrating completely. Since the debt crisis erupted, hundreds of thousands of Greeks have lost their jobs and the unemployment rate in Greece reached 27,6%. The profile of people living on the street or in unsuitable housing has changed as well and many young graduates, people in productive age, those who lost their jobs just before retirement, became homeless. The new homeless come from different walks of life, gender, race, ethnicity and class.