This past easter my country's (Cyprus) economy officially took the final blow and crumbled. Things had been getting worse and worse over the past 5 years, but now we needed help. The banks almost went bankrupt, and people were, and still are, being made redundant from their jobs, or have their pay cut by up to 50% (possibly even more!).
The country still maintains its beauty, and not much has changed when you go there on vacation as an outsider, but still, people will struggle to bring the economy back up to its past levels for a long time.
When this happened in other parts of the world, for example Greece and Spain, we saw riots, fires and people acting negatively towards each other.
In Cyprus we saw the opposite: people united together, helped each other, and did not cause any destruction. There were no riots and no fighting.
I wanted to share a few stories here:
Copied from a friends facebook, and translated to english:
" My eighty year old mother asked me: 'so daughter, how much will they cut from me?' (referring to the cuts the banks did on people's accounts) I told her how much she would have to pay from the money she was saving so that she would not become a burden in her old age on her six children who she raised and educated. I told her how much and she asked me once more if this cut would be done each month, or if it was just once. I told her it would only be once. She considered what i was telling her for a brief moment, and said 'well, if its for our country to be saved, its worth it. Shall I made you a coffee?'... this brought tears to my eyes"
The same person created a series of posts about what it means to be a Cypriot:
The Anatomy of a Cypriot:
...Maybe among other things we are naive but the core make up of the Cypriot is summarized in the following story. As you all know the banks on our island have been closed for almost two weeks now. Those of us with debit/credit cards were able to withdraw money from ATMs and take care of our families. Many of the elderly however do not use or know how to use plastic. An old lady was patiently waiting her turn at an ATM to withdraw cash. When her turn came she turned to the person behind her handed him her savings booklet and said: 'can you please help me get some money out of this machine, i have never done it.' The people there realizing that the old lady did not know how the system worked and understanding that she would not be able to secure some cash for God knows how long, very discreetly gathered an amount between them and handed it to her. But the old lady was no dummy she knew what was happening, so she thanked them took the money and made every one of them to write their name, their telephone number and the amount they contributed on the back of her savings booklet so that she can find them and at the first opportunity return the loan they so readily extended to her...
This grandfather is just one of those people who not only didn't withdraw money on the first day the banks opened after a 14 day shut down but he took his savings and OPENED a brand new account in the troubled Bank of Cyprus. 'I amnot a depositor of this bank' he said, 'but now the bank is in need. We have to support our banks it is our national duty, to stay calm and help our country.' In this video Dr Eleni Theocharous is announcing that two medical centers one in Nicosia and one in Limassol have already been set up to take care of those in need. All doctors are offering their services free.
My FB friends, we are not better than the rest of the people in this world but we like you work hard, we raise our families, we take care of our parents we lend a helping hand! Yes dr Theocharous is correct this tiny little nation has immense reserves of courage, kindness and determination -- we will survive and thrive once again...
On the first of april Cyprus Aid organized a concert where the main artists, singers and other individuals related to the performing arts who originally came from Cyprus performed on stage for free. The "tickets" to this concert came in the form of donations of food, medicines and other supplies which were then given to families and groups who had immediate need. About 8,000 - 10,000 people showed up to donate and take part in this event (a massive number for a city which has about 200,000 people in it). People travelled from all over the country to take part, and give to the community, and different centres were set up in each city where people could go to get their free supplies. The donations filled 10 warehouses to maximum capacity, and the support and sense of community people showed was deeply moving for everyone present and for people who could see what was happening from afar. There were no riots, nor any sense of hostility. Just unity, grace, and support.
These stories moved me deeply, and are what motivates me to create a series of images about how people can embody the notions of grace and support even in the face of complete destruction. Hope you enjoyed learning a bit about the little country where I am from.
Wishing you the best day, and wishing the best for the future of my country.