A Larnaca resident is galvanising philanthropists from all over Cyprus this weekend to rally round to help an elderly Cypriot man living in unsuitable conditions.
Following a chance meeting with 73-year-old, Giorgos, Natacha Butenko realised the pensioner was in dire need of help. After visiting his home, to take him some clothes and discuss painting lessons for her daughter, she was left distraught and shocked.
“I couldn’t believe that George had to live like this, it’s inhuman and I realised that I had to do something,” she told the Cyprus Mail.
The pensioner’s home has no doors or windows and there are gaping holes are in many of the walls where mould grows on the interior and where graffiti is also scribbled. There is also no working toilet or bathroom facilities, only cold running water. There is no kitchen, Butenko said that a couple of bits of ‘furniture’ that he did have were broken and have now been thrown away and will be replaced.
“He has no glass in any of the windows and in his bedroom he had put a pillow in it to try and stop the cold weather from entering.”
Living in such a terrible state has caused George to experience back pain and Butenko has taken him to the hospital to get checked.
“I didn’t want to ask him too many question’s and decided to let him tell me what he wants to. He is a very intelligent man, he speaks good English and he always speaks with kindness about everyone. He has a pure heart,” she said.
He is popular with neighbours and is a well-known face, however, until now, people were unaware of his living conditions, as no one visited him at home. She has also learnt from her enquiries, that thieves robbed what little he had from his home last year. She said that putting in doors and windows is a priority.
On Saturday at 9.30am, volunteers will meet at the house to start the mammoth task of ‘fixing up’ the premises. After an appeal on her Facebook page which has been shared by many, tens of volunteers and people wanting to donate items have come forward.
“Plumbers, electricians, builders and painters are being organised, but we need more and we also need a skip for outside,” she said.
Some kitchen goods and furniture, a TV, a 3 seater sofa, microwave, bed and mattress, wall paint,
small fridge and other items have already been collected or donated.
Construction materials are still needed and Butenko dreams of being able to provide Giorgos with a proper bathroom. “If someone could help us with that, it would be amazing,” she said.
The pensioner will spend a week at a nearby hostel whilst all of the renovations are underway, in order to reduce the amount of stress he experiences, she said.
Food is now also being regularly taken to his home and as he only has two teeth, its simple food that he can eat easily and when his microwave arrives, that can be warmed up.
Butanko has assured that George’s life will be different from now on, as along with some of her friends, she intends to include him in her life.
“I want him to come to my house and my daughter can’t wait to meet him. He has to live like a human being, no-one should be left like this.” She said that Giorgos has accepted help but would never ask for anything.
“He never complains and he told me that God sent me to him, he is so very happy for all of the help that is being offered. I would like to thank everyone that is helping, it feels like there is love and kindness in the air.”
If you would like to help please contact the Cyprus Mail [email protected]