INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY_ Lena: No woman should feel inferior

“No woman should feel inferior”, says Lena, who celebrated her 50nth birthday on February 13th. Lena Mrapshtija  comes from Albania and lives in Greece for the last 20 years. Today, she works as a part-time cleaner at the Thessaloniki Solidarity Center.

Lena was a good student and her dream was to study medicine, but she didn’t succeed because of her country’s political regime according to which only one child of each family had the opportunity to be enrolled at the University. “My brother studied medicine, but I was unlucky”, she says. In 1999 she came to Greece to find her husband, who had already been settled in our country and worked as a construction worker. At the beginning she found the Greek language difficult. “I understood Greek, but I couldn’t speak, because I was afraid of making mistakes”, she tells us. Her neighbor, who welcomed her as a family member, helped her with Greek, and that is something she will never forget.

She has done many different jobs. She has worked as a cleaner in a hospital, in taverns, in a flower shop, in fast foods and other places. In Thessaloniki Solidarity Center she has been working for the last year. For Lena every job -with its good and its bad moments- gives you a life-lesson. “But in these two jobs I have learned a lot. Here I have met people who have gone through a lot but at the same time they have found support and help. I am glad that they have this opportunity, because in the past I have gone through a lot and no one was there to help me”, she stresses.

But when you receive, you have to give back, this is Lena’s philosophy. She believes that NGO’s beneficiaries should try to adapt as much as possible to the Greek reality. She finds many things in common with these women, because she has also passed through a similar struggle.

“I do not know if I can help them, I wish I could”, she stresses. “I wish for these women to live a good life in the country they have come, to try not to feel inferior.

Because we women, we are not inferior.

I wish all their dreams come true. I wish the same for all women, especially those who are experiencing difficulties”.

 *Thessaloniki Solidarity Center was established and is supported by Open Society Foundations (OSF/OSIFE).