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PANAGIOTIS’ STORY & LIFE-CHANGING STEPS

Emfasis Foundation is witnessing a myriad of personal stories from people we meet through our outreach programmes. Most stories are an undeniable testimonial of the miraculous willpower displayed by these people. This month, we chose to share with you the personal story of Panagiotis.

Panagiotis ,33 years old, used to live in Aspropyrgos. He lost his father in 2008, during an already very burdensome time for his family as they were struggling financially. At that time, he was trying to get some occasional jobs to somehow deal with the financial hardships his family was experiencing as alike many other Greek households affected by the deep economic crisis.

Following a big disagreement with his mother in 2013, he left his home and came to Athens, in search for a better life. He headed to Zappeion, the only place he knew in the capital. The money was not even enough to buy a bus ticket, let alone to rent a flat. Having no choice he ended up on the street.

Panagiotis spent one year at Zappeion. He used to take a bath at the public fountains. He was really scared about his life but he never gave up trying. He used to help occasionally in at a café securing his food and a coffee. He even started working in at the cemetery, cleaning graves in order to earn some pocket money. After all of this, he still could not afford to rent a flat.

Eventually, he learnt about a street magazine “Shedia” (a magazine sold by people in need helping them to earn some money and rebuilt their lives). He started working there as a seller and after a while he was able to rent a small flat. He is still working there in order to cover his basic living-costs, while taking, at the same time, Greek language reading and writing courses.

The last obstacle standing in his way in his pursuit a better job, was his smile. Though it may seem impossible, Panagiotis, while having to deal with all of his problems, he neglected his oral health leading to the loss of his teeth.
Emfasis came into his life, taking care of this vital need. Helping him with his titanic efforts to build a better future, Emfasis offered him a new smile through its programme called “Changing the Past”, which provides socially vulnerable people who have completed their respective social inclusion programmes with cosmetic dental restoration.

Emfasis, changed Panagiotis present life by removing a self image which was a constant reminder of his troublesome past. Panagiotis, now, full of confidence and with a big smile is able to keep taking his life- changing steps!!!

Marilou Stefanou
Sociologist

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