Lorenc Toska returned from Greece to his village in central Albania with empty hands and pockets. He had been working there hoping to secure a better life for his family back home, but the crisis in the neighbouring country ruined his dreams.
“I returned penniless, with my only luggage being a small bag with my work clothes,” the 25-year-old Toska told AFP while hugging his baby boy.
During his last visit in January, Toska bought him a little toy, but this time he could not afford any present.
More than 600,000 Albanians fleeing the poverty in their homeland have gone to seek their fortune in Greece, many of them illegally, according to official estimates.
But since Greece’s debt crisis deepened, about 180,000 Albanians have returned home, officials say.
Toska, whose money was the only source of income for his wife, their two children, his parents and a grandmother, was only able to send them 200 euros ($224) since March.
Instead of paying Toska what he was owed, his Greek boss ordered him to leave Greece, threatening to inform the police of his illegal status.
“I was working in the cotton fields for the past three years, often 14 hours per day. My boss promised to pay us everything, due to the crisis, in mid-June, but instead we had to leave,” Toska said.
In his village of Suk, which has 1,800 inhabitants, many families live on remittances from their children and relatives working in Greece.
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