L. walks with difficulty. She presses her hand against the wall to be able to stand and continues her walk. Few weeks ago, she couldn’t even stand on her feet. I told her to stand by me. L., 38 years old, comes from Pakistan. The last few months she has been living at SolidarityNow’s shelter for vulnerable cases in the center of Thessaloniki.
L. had the strength and courage to travel by herself to Greece. I am asking her about her life in Pakistan, but she doesn’t want to talk about her past. So, our discussion focuses on her recent adventure with her health.
L. suffered from unexplained and sudden seizures. For a long time, she didn’t know what was happening to her. She had episodes in which her contact with the environment was preserved. “I believed that an evil spirit had taken hold of me,” she explains us. From Nea Kavala refugee camp, where she was living, she was hurriedly moved to SolidarityNow’s shelter for vulnerable cases in the center of Thessaloniki and then to Papanikolaou Hospital, where she underwent a brain tumor surgery. The surgery was successful, but she had to be immediately transferred to a rehabilitation center. A real big race started then. “We didn’t know if we could proceed, and most importantly who is going to pay the rehab center. At the beginning, I was pessimistic,”, says Maria Georgopoulou, Social Officer at SolidarityNow’s Hosting and Accommodation Programs in Thessaloniki.
Despite the difficulties and time pressure, L. with Maria’s help and SolidarityNow’s financial support went to the Rehabilitation Center “Armonia”. There, through physiotherapies, she gradually regained her motor skills. Maria didn’t leave her alone. She accompanied her to the hospital, she gave her anticoagulant injections, and she supported her in other occasions as she couldn’t look after herself. At the beginning L. was feeling lost. It is not an easy thing for a single woman, who does not speak the Greek language, to be alone in a foreign country and to undergo such a serious surgery. When she came to SolidarityNow’s shelter she started to feel better. “Three months have passed, but still there are more things to be done not only by her but also by me. There is no room for complacency”, says Maria.
L. is a strong and courageous woman. “God gives life and can take it again. This was a trial for me. I died, and I came back to life. I feel grateful to God, and to SolidarityNow and Maria! “, she underlines. Her health has been improved. We ask her how she imagines her life in the future. “At the moment I’m staying at the shelter until I get better, but I’m very anxious about what will happen next. Where will I go, what will I do? What I really want is to feel better, to learn Greek, to find a job and start and normal life in Greece” she tells us. We ask her if she wants to start her life all over again. She answers “that the only thing that she wants right now is to be back on her feet”.
[#ESTIA, the Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation programme, is implemented by SolidarityNow, supported by UNHCR and funded by ECHO].