Greek families forage abroad to stay afloat in crisis

Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:22am EDT
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By Li-mei Hoang and Renee Maltezou

LONDON/ATHENS (Reuters) - The wistfulness in the voice of George Kapetanios is heart-warming and an increasingly familiar tone for Greek families at home and in cities all over Europe and the world these days.

Put out of business by a shrinking economy that has been crushed by the eurozone crisis, unable to find work at home and desperate to stay afloat financially, Kapetanios, his wife Katerina Germanou and daughter Paraskevi came to London months ago so the parents could find work abroad.

Now they are hoping for a brief taste of their former family life when stepson Thanos Kehagias, who has remained in Greece to finish his university studies, comes for a visit.

"I've met people here from all over the world, who say I've not been back for seven years, not been to see my mum for seven years, I don't do that," Kapetanios told Reuters in London. "I don't live like that. We (Greeks) are very close with family."

In Munich, Maria Zatse dreams of work and frets about improving her faltering German. The 49-year-old was a hairdresser in her native Greece for 30 years.

Then the eurozone crisis hit. The construction company where her husband Niko worked went bankrupt in 2010 and he lost his job. They struggled along on her income for a while before business at her salon dried up. Then they sold their house and moved to Germany in search of work.

"People didn't have any money," she said.

The story for the Kapetanioses and the Zatses is being replayed for Greek families all over Greece and Europe.   Continued...

George Kapetanios poses for a photograph in the kitchen of Ta Dilina Greek restaurant in north London where he works as a chef, February 29, 2012. REUTERS/Paul Hackett