Sydney CEO offers desperate pensioner a lifeline, as elderly Greeks hit hard by economic crisis

By Maria Kyriacou

Pensioners struggle to enter a National Bank branch to receive part of their pension in Iraklio on the island of Crete, Greece, July 2, 2015. Long lines of pensioners jostling to get into a limited number of banks opened specially to pay out retirement benefits have become a powerful symbol of the misery facing Greece and the problems mounting for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. REUTERS/Stefanos Rapanis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1IPRT
Pensioners struggle to enter a National Bank branch to receive part of their pension in Iraklio on the island of Crete, Greece, July 2, 2015. Long lines of pensioners jostling to get into a limited number of banks opened specially to pay out retirement benefits have become a powerful symbol of the misery facing Greece and the problems mounting for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. REUTERS/Stefanos Rapanis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX1IPRT
'It's an amazing and rare chance to really help someone..." says Aussie CEO helping Greek pensioner through troubled times.

The Greek economic  crisis has given us many images of shattered citizens, but the photograph of despairing pensioner Giorgios Chatzifiotiadis, weeping on the street outside a bank he was unable to withdraw money has resulted in a good news story. A Sydney man has come forward after recognising Mr Chatzifiotiadis, offering him a lifeline. James Koufos is flying to Greece to help the pensioner who was an old friend of his father’s. He had urged his Facebook friends to help him locate the man.

REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

 

The steady stream of images depicting struggling pensioners seems to sum up the heartbreak of the country’s everyday people.

The Australian finance CEO has been affected by the photographs, and has vowed to pay the pension of the 77-year-old man who is but one of the casualties of the Greek economic crisis. Mr Chatzifiotiadis had broken down, crying uncontrollably after waiting in line at four banks without managing to withdraw his 120 Euro weekly pension.

‘It’s an amazing and rare chance to really help someone… we have been told exactly where he lives in the village. My mum (who still lives in Greece) got really emotional when she saw the story, so did I… it motivated me to do something.” said Mr Koufos.

Mr Koufos was deeply affected by the image and said he was motivated to help his father’s old school friend, who had worked hard his entire life and was now unable to feed his family.

The businessman insists he doesn’t want any attention from his act of kindness and has remained out of the spotlight.

Pensioners struggling to enter a National Bank branch to receive part of their pension in Iraklio, Crete. REUTERS/Stefanos Rapanis
Pensioners struggling to enter a National Bank branch to receive part of their pension in Iraklio, Crete. REUTERS/Stefanos Rapanis

Greece’s place in the European Union and economic stability has taken a precarious turn with the people overwhelmingly voting no to the conditions set out in an assistance package from creditors.

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