Jan. 31 - Greece's oldest and largest orphanage and school for mentally disabled children fears it may have to close following drastic budget cuts. Ciara Sutton reports.
Greece's oldest orphanage and school for children and adults with mental disabilities could be forced to close its doors. The state run Pammakaristos Children's Institution has been left to rely on donations after its state funding was slashed by 62 percent. That means only 11 euros a day to spend on each child it cares for. Filipini Karanikola runs the school. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) PRESIDENT OF PAMMAKARISTOS CHILDREN'S INSTITUTION FILIPINI KARANIKOLA SAYING: "We're not asking for charity, we regard it as an obligation of a civilized country to support these institutions." Spread out over five acres of land donated by the Greek Catholic Church, the school cares for 130 children and adults between the ages of three and 50. Tsika and her twin sister have been residents for 35 years. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) ORPHAN VOULA TSIKA 50, SAYING: "Me, I am great here. Here everyone is good, and Anna and I are very good here. Outside people may be good or bad - I cannot tell the difference." The institute uses its own vegetable garden to feed the children and hopes someone will donate goats or cows so that they have their own milk. Staff salaries have been reduced by 55 percent and a lack of therapists and assistants means that class sizes are now larger. Child psychologist Leonidas Bolovinos (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST LEONIDAS BOLOVINOS SAYING: "I wonder if the European Union is proud of this. I wonder if the economic indicators which are beginning to rise can fill this huge humanitarian void. As for the quality of my work, because of my professionalism and dignity it has not been affected and I won't let it. " And staff at the children's centre aren't the only ones struggling with the latest wave of government austerity. In yet another day of strikes, bus, rail and port workers brought the transport system to a halt in Athens. The government says the worst of the cuts are over, but Greek workers say they've had enough.