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How Greek Financial Crisis Is Bringing Out The Good In People

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GREEK PROTEST
People line up for free meat lunches under a rainfall in Athens on Thursday, March 7, 2013. It's called "Barbecue Thursday" _ a raucous pre-Easter celebration for meat lovers. But this year's Tsiknopempti festivities, a fixture of the Carnival season, coincided with the Greek Statistical Authority announced unemployment in Greece has dipped marginally to 26.4 percent, according to data for December. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis) | Getty
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While the Greek economy survives on rescue loans, the unemployment rate hovers around 26 percent, and the public sector protests against the government's austerity measures, Greek citizens are coming together to turn their country around.

Many Greeks are exchanging values of self-interest and superficiality for compassion and altruism, Spiegel Online International reports.

Providing Free Medical Care:

For instance, while half of Greece's unemployed population goes without health insurance, doctors like Giorgos Vichas have been providing them with free medical care.

Vichas runs a medical clinic in Athens with 90 other doctors who also work for free, according to Spiegel Online International. Vichas, whose clinic sees almost 3,000 patients monthy, told Spiegel that he has seen a drastic turnaround in Greece's cultural attitude and its citizens' propensity to help others.

"I would never have believed that a society that was so superficial for so long could behave with such unity," he said in a recent interview.

And Vichas isn't alone in his efforts to support a Greek society suffering from austerity and unemployment.

Revitalizing Communities:

Mary Karantza, 33, and Stephania Xydia, 26, started Imagine The City, an NGO that engages citizens and organizes service projects to regenerate and develop Greece's urban communities. Karantza and Xydia's organization is working to reinstall lamps and improve drug-infested downtown areas of Athens, Spiegel Online International reports. In her interview, Karantza emphasized that it is up to the people, not politicians, to make a difference in Greece.

"Many are still searching for a savior in politics, someone who fill feed them," she said.

Connecting Citizens Who Care:

Andreas Roumeliotis is another resident who stopped searching for his savior and instead started his own social initiative after the government ended the public broadcasting station, ERT, where he was once a radio show host. When ERT first shut down, 2,600 workers lost their jobs. But with the help of the European Broadcasting Union, the station was able to resume broadcasts last month -- according to France24.

Although Roumeliotis is no longer working for ERT, he has launched a new project that involves consolidating all of Greece's positive social initiatives under one online umbrella on which users can connect and locate each other on Google Maps, Spiegel International Reports. He hopes to launch the website under the URL address, enallaktikos.gr.

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