Kouzilos family lives in the dark since one and a half years. The debt to Greek Public Power Company (DEH) amounts €1,900. Father Giorgos tried to make an arrangement with PCC ten days ago, but no solution was found with the local branch. His offer of 500 euro was not enough for the connection of the electricity. No question, the family cannot even pay the arranged installments of the debt. Then both parents are long-time jobless. And in Greece, long time-jobless get no allowance.
Three oil lamps make the darkness of the night milder.
The balcony serves as refrigerator for the milk for the kids.
For bathing, the family puts water in a pot and heats it over a camping gas.
” It is a very difficult situation for me, my wife and especially our three children. They try to finish their homework by day light,” Giorgos Kouzilos describes the situation.
“We try to make the situation as less painful as possible,” adds mother Eugenia. It’s only occasionally that she bring some money in from cleaning jobs. The family lives on sou kitchen meals and the aid from friends, relatives and neighbors.
Euronews visited the Kouzilos family that lives in Keratsini, one of the low-incomers suburbs of Piraeus. Euronews report focuses on the activist that illegally reconnects the power to households with debts.
“When will we have electricity again, Mom?” This is a question scores of Greek children are asking their parents as darkness falls.
Giorgos Kouzilos lights an oil lamp as darkness falls outside in what is becoming an everyday chore.
A government plan to restore electricity to Greece’s poorest families is expected to help approximately 10,000 households, but is is not nearly enough.
The massive task of restoring power is being held up by bureaucracy.
“The situation is really tough for my wife and mainly my children. We try to complete our daily activities such as helping our children with their homework during the daylight,” said Giorgos Kouzilos, a father struggling to raise a family in darkness.
Keratsini is a suburb in the southwest of Athens near the port of Piraeus and home to 91,000 people. According to the mayor, over the last three years, 10,000 homes have been disconnected.
“It is very difficult. I cook with camping gas. We preserve all the products that need to be kept in the fridge by putting them on the balcony.”
But for some families, help is at hand. A group of activists are secretly restoring power to families in need.
The activists see electricity as a public wealth. Their aim is to not to leave a single family in the dark. These citizen groups are defying the law and restoring power illegally. The movement has already helped 4,000 households.
Pantelis, a 55-year-old father of three is one of the luckier ones.
“I would like to thank the activists because they have restored electricity in my house. Now I can raise my children. They can do their homework and take a bath.”
By stealth, these amateur electricians bring power to homes, risking possible arrest and prosecution.
“We are a movement of political defiance. We restore electricity in 15 houses per day. We help people suffering from poverty,” said one.
For the people of Keratsini, the renegade band of power activists are a lifeline.
Euronews journalist Michalis Arampatzoglou said: “According to Hellenic Distribution Network Operator, 350,000 connections will have been excluded from electrical power supply by the end of 2013. At least 40 percent of them are either being reconnected illegally or staying without electricity.” (also the video in English in euronews)
Private Skai TV had an interview with Kouzilos family on Thursday evening. The family said, that the the arrangement with PPC was stuck in bureaucracy because subscriber to PPC it’s not they but the grandfather. What if the government has heralded the reconnection to poor households. Bureaucracy is alive and kicking. Nevertheless, after exposing the situation of Kouzilos family, the PPC said, it would try to find a solution.