A few days ago, the now 82-year-old Christina-Eleni left Thessaloniki to return to the arms of her children, who grew up, studied, married, had their own children and grandchildren, with the money she had been sending them all these years, leaving herself back her personal life.
“The first time I came to Greece – with a visa – in 1993, at the age of 52, I worked for a few months, taking care of a disabled grandfather. I collected money and returned to my daughters, but the needs were so great and the life unbearable, with many shortages, that I left for Greece again. And this time at great risk to my life after we crossed the border from the mountains of Bulgaria” the 82-year-old woman tells the Athens/Macedonian News Agency and after a short pause she continues: “I don’t even want to remember this painful adventure, don’t you are asking me the details”…
During her 30 years in Greece, Christina – Eleni Tscheitze changed six families. Six houses where he lived with the elderly, as well as the chronically ill he cared for. “And when they told me, “we are lucky to have you”, I answered them: “I am lucky to work for you! And this is true” he says, speaking in the Greek language, which he learned well.
We learned about Christina Tscheitze from a touching post by Elpida Hochliourou on Facebook, on the occasion of the farewell: “These are also wonderful women who are caregivers of adults, of our grandmothers, of our nannies who took time and gave their soul to keep them alive, when our time was short and our pain great, they were perhaps the only ones who recognized when their memory was leaving them… I have known Mrs. Christina from Georgia for almost a lifetime and a little more, it was then that she took extra care of my beloved aunt”, wrote Mrs. Hochliourou.
She herself, speaking to APE-MPE, added: “Christina worked for about 10 years in our family. She was and is a lady dear to everyone, even our little son at the time, who is now 23 years old, when he heard that Christina came to Greece to work and collect money to send to her children and grandchildren, who live in Georgia, he said to her: “I will also collect money from my pocketbook and when you leave, I will give it to your children!”
From what we learn about Christina, she had no social life in Greece. She had the joy of life in her, that’s why she gave people hope, sacrificing her life for many years for people she cared for and for her family she supported. “I felt that I was offering, that I had to do good, that gave me motivation and strength to continue,” says the 82-year-old.
Her life has never been easy. The constant struggle never daunted her. “I got married very early, but it wasn’t really a marriage… I was stolen by my husband. We lived in the village then, I was a nice girl. I could not return home, I lived like a “prisoner” and in the end we broke up. I was raising my daughters alone. For thirty years I worked in heavy and unsanitary conditions, in the metallurgical factory of Rustavi. He had higher wages there. I worked in a foundry,” he explains.
“In the 1990s,” he continues, “we had a big economic crisis in Georgia. We survived without wages, without electricity, without food and without any medical help. After the hard work at the foundry, I took early retirement and said I can take care of people. I had both strength and will.
I loved all my patients. Some of them had dementia and could not respond. I took care of them as best as I could so that they could have a decent life.”
Before leaving Thessaloniki forever, he visited the families where he worked to say goodbye. The family of Sakis Georgakis is also part of them. “In our family, Christina worked for six years, taking care of the grandfather until the end of his life,” says Mr. Georgakis to APE-MPE and points out: “Many years have passed since then, but we have not lost our contacts, he is so good a man you rarely meet!”.
In her thirty years of working in Greece, the 82-year-old returned to Georgia when she did not have a job and was searching from one family to another. “That was my vacation – the breaks. But also my daughters and grandchildren had come to Greece some years for summer holidays.
We meet several times, today modern technology also helps us, since we talk by video call and this is a miracle that brings people together when they are far away” he says and continues with a laugh: “Once we wrote letters, we sent them with the Georgian transport offices as the post office in Georgia it was not functioning normally. Then we ran to the booths. From there we called Georgia, our families, and then the first mobile phones came. Today we have the best that enable us to talk and see each other.”
With her wise and loving look, she bids us farewell, characteristically telling us: “Don’t say ‘goodbye’ to me, it’s better to say ‘see you again’, because if I am called to take care of someone in need, I will return to Greece again.” I still have strength and joy to offer!”