Damian Mac Con Uladh

Posts Tagged ‘Children’

Mariam’s story: one Syrian girl’s journey to Europe

In Greece on 5 May 2015 at 6:31 pm
Mariam in Athens, December 2014

Mariam in Athens, December 2014

I met and befriended Mariam (who was then 9 years old) and her father, Mohammed (40), on Syntagma Square, Athens, in November 2014 during the weeks-long protest by Syrian refugees for better treatment from Greece and the European Union. They had left Damascus two years before after their home was destroyed in a bombing, in which Mariam’s mother lost her life. After a two year odyssey that took them through Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and just over the border into Bulgaria, they made their first attempt to cross from the Turkish coast to a Greek island, nearly drowning on the way. Later, they were beaten by the cold trying to walk through forests at night in the Republic of Macedonia. Mariam, who insists on her rights as a child to life, health and education, was keen that her story be recorded. The text was written by her father and translated from the Arabic by @HanaaAbusedu, Gaza, Palestine.

This is the story of Mariam, who’s now ten years’ old, who is looking for a life or, to put it simply, to avoid experiencing the same pain and suffering for the second time.

When Mariam was in the first grade at school, she was creative, pleasing and an excellent pupil, who used her academic superiority to appear older. She was best in her class at reading in English and Arabic; learning to read and write in both Arabic and English came naturally to her.

All that time, she and I (her father) were trying to overcome and pretend to forget the catastrophic events, which had started to besiege Damascus, where we lived.

She finished the first grade and moved up to the second, but the flames were approaching our area of Yarmouk in Damascus. It was as if it was raining fire on the area, and our biggest loss was when a bomb hit our house. That was a disaster that cannot be forgotten.

Nevertheless, Mariam and I were outside the house. Events began to overtake us until eventually all Yarmouk’s residents were forced to leave it after rebel forces entered it and regime aircraft started to bomb the district, sparking a mass exodus. Sometimes abbreviation is necessary, not in an attempt to exclude certain events, but to avoid painful memories. Read the rest of this entry »


Unicef: Greece suffers ‘great leap backwards’ in child poverty

In Greece on 29 October 2014 at 11:09 am
(Graphic: Unicef)

(Graphic: Unicef)

Child poverty rates have more than doubled in Greece since 2008, affecting two in every five children, the UN’s child agency has said, in a report that underlines the negative impact of austerity measures on children, particularly in the Mediterranean region..

A report (pdf) issued on October 28, as thousands of children were taking part in school parades across Greece, Unicef found that 40.5% of children in Greece were living households were income is below the poverty line in 2012, the highest rate in world’s 41 most affluent countries.

Unicef said that 2.6m children have sunk below the poverty line in these countries since 2008, bringing the total number of children in the “developed” world living in poverty to an estimated 76.5m.

In 23 of the 41 countries analysed, child poverty has increased since 2008, with Iceland experiencing the greatest jump, followed by Greece, Latvia, Croatia and Ireland, where the difference was more than 50% on pre-crisis levels.

In Greece’s case, the child poverty rate jumped 17.5 points, from 23% in 2008 to 40.5% in 2012. The country also witnessed a trebling in the proportion of children who are income poor and severely deprived.

The report said that in Greece and Spain, poor children were further below the poverty line in 2013 than they were in 2008. Children in migrant households were more adversely affected, with poverty rates increasing by 35 percentage points compared with 15 percentage points for all other children.

The report also found that the 2012 median Greek household incomes for families with children sank to 1998 levels – the equivalent of a loss of 14 years of income progress. In real terms, that meant that the since 2008, the percentage of households with children unable to afford a meal with meat, chicken, fish (or a vegetable equivalent) every second day increased by 18% Greece in 2012.

Read the rest of this entry »

Urgent appeal for donations to help traffic accident victim (9)

In Greece on 23 October 2014 at 12:39 pm


The family of a young boy who suffered life-threatening injuries in a hit-and-run incident on a central Athens boulevard over two years ago has issued an urgent appeal to raise the necessary funds for specialised operations that would help him speak and feed himself again.

On 12 July 2012, David Maciorowski, who is now nine, his twin sister and his mother were razed down while walking on Patision Avenue by a motorcyclist, a permanent non-commissioned Greek Navy officer, who fled the scene before turning himself in a few hours later, at the urging of his father.

The 21-year-old, who ran a red light, had also injured a cyclist prior to ramming into the twins and their mother.

Among his serious injuries, David suffered severe damage in his mouth cavity leaving him unable to speak or feed himself properly. He is missing a substantial piece of bone in his buccal cavity and is in need of continuous and painful surgeries that have been delayed.

The first major surgical intervention was undertaken in July, thanks to the voluntary efforts of a surgeon and donations from members of the public. However, the family needs at least €20,000 to cover the cost of the other specialised operations, such as a bone transplant to the jaw, that would allow David speak again and lead a normal life.

According to reports, since the accident the Maciorowski family has received no assistance from the state nor from the family of the motorcyclist, who was released on bail after surrendering himself to police.

He was due to appear on criminal charges before a naval court martial last May, but the hearing was cancelled due to the elections held in that same month. A date for the civil case has yet to be scheduled.

Read the rest of this entry »