By Yannis Behrakis
Marialena’s tears ran down her face onto the dirty mattress where she and her boyfriend Dimitrios have been sleeping day in, day out, for over a year, under a bridge in one of Athens’ most run-down neighborhoods.
Marialena, 42, is a homeless AIDS patient and a former drug addict on a Methadone rehab program.
Athens is full of sad stories like hers – of once ordinary people with a job and family who have found themselves on the fringes of society after the country’s economic crisis began in 2009. Up until a few years ago, homelessness was relatively unusual in this country of close family ties, but nowadays stories like Marialena’s are increasingly common.
As Dimitrios tries – without any gloves – to clean the bleeding gashes on her arm, a rat makes its way behind their mattress.
Dimitrios, 51 – who is divorced with a 21-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son – became homeless three years ago when he lost his job as a dancer in a Greek folk-dancing troupe.