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Kostadinka Kouneva has defeated the attack against her

10 March 2012 / 00:03:20  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova


Three years ago, just before Christmas, a Bulgarian, Kostadinka Kouneva, became the victim of a brutal attack. On her way home from work, she was attacked by two men and splashed with acid. This was followed by a long stay in the hospital, numerous surgeries and a wave of support and solidarity. This was prompted by Kostadinka’s union activity against the unfair approach of the employers to her fellow-employees at the cleaning companies. Today the investigation of her case is closed, but there’s another investigation in progress upon the order of the prosecutor, on the way these particular companies operate.

Now Kostadinka is preparing to leave for France where she will continue her treatment for the next more than two years. Despite the difficulties she’s looking at life positively and with optimism.

How does Kostadinka Kouneva feel three years after the attack?

With the exception of the problems that my body has I feel good. Mentally I am well and I continue to live. I am the mother of a child, I am obliged to raise and help him in life. I think I’m managing well with this task.

I've still got quite a lot of surgeries to undergo. Soon I will go to France, where I will stay with my son for at least two years. The doctor wants me to be there because I will be subjected to continuous surgeries. Until today they were at intervals of three months but now they will become more frequent. They will also operate on my vocal cords. I suppose they will gradually close my tracheotomy, my nose will be fine and I will be able to breathe more freely, because I’m now breathing through the tracheotomy, and this hinders me in my sleep and while walking. I can hardly do any housework. If it wasn’t for my mother who is helping me, it would’ve been very difficult on me. Fortunately, when she’s not with me, my son also helps me and thus we manage together.

How do your days pass?

I work on myself and I work very hard. I practise Tibetan Buddhism and try to devote to this wisdom a very large part of my day. This helps me a lot in my life. It helped me when I was in the hospital after I was splashed with acid, it helped me in the analysis of all the states which I have gone through. Perhaps that is why I didn’t fall into some depressive state and I'm not dependent on psychotropic drugs.

I have a normal rhythm, I can not take on too many commitments, I don’t have the strength to do many things. But I try to get better faster, and to continue with my life at a normal pace.

The Greek state gave you the house you live in. What resources do you have since you are unable to work?

I have a sickness pension to the amount of 530 euro. It’s not enough having in mind that only one of my creams, which finishes in 10 days costs 55 euro and its contents are only 15 ml. Many of the medications that I use are not covered by my health insurance and I pay for them myself from our family income.

Does this also apply to the operations?

So far, only one of the operations was 30 percent covered by the IKA health fund. All other surgeries I've paid by myself. I don’t know how to approach the ones that are to come. Perhaps the first ones I will myself, and later if I can make an additional insurance, the insurance institution can cover most of the expenses. The costs are very high. It’s great, that people in Greece have helped me and I am very pleased with their attention. I want to point out that these are neither parties nor publicly committed people. I'm talking about ordinary citizens. With my pension I could not even pay for my ticket to France. There is simply nothing left from it, I spend it on medicines. My mother, who can not work either because she’s taking care of me and the child, also receives a pension of 500 euro.

Is your son, whose health problem was actually the reason you came to Greece, now well?

Yes, he’s well. He’s growing up well and I can see that he will become a good person. It is too early to tell, but judging by his intentions about life and how he analyzes events I think that he will become a good person. Emmanuel receives a scholarship from Eurobank and studies at an English school. When we go to France he will be transferred to the same school to continue his education. Otherwise, the language problem would have been very serious because he doesn’t speak French and I did not want to leave him away from me for two years. I didn’t want us to be apart, as this is difficult for both of us.

Have you had any help from Bulgaria?

The Bulgarian Embassy in Athens organized a holiday for our entire family in Pavel Banya two summers ago. It helped me a lot. I was very weak physically back then and I could not keep my body upright. The physiotherapy, which I went through in Pavel Banya helped me a lot. Some unions have given some aid to my mother. I think in the range of 1000-2000 euro.

The investigation on the case of your attack was curtailed. Has it been renewed?

No, it hasn't. It continues in parallel with the investigation of the cleaning company, which was ordered by the prosecutor. It began at the same time as mine in order to reveal what exactly is going on in these companies, what unlawful acts are performed and what is the attitude towards the people working there. The investigation of my case was added to it, because the team is different and it continues to work.

The file on my case can be reopened at any time. Lawyers had some ideas, which they said should be explored. I have no idea to what extent this has been done. The prosecutors know what they have done for them.

Are you afraid?

No, I do not feel any fear. I saw and experienced death from up close and I came back. This whole obstacle has made me wiser. I saw things that very few people can see in a normal state. Only those who work in a spiritual direction can see them. There is nothing scary, if one lives without selfishness, with love and respecting human values.

What do you think about the crisis in Greece?

This is a process that is currently giving results. Mistakes are now coming to light. But this crisis was created artificially throughout the world. It is the result of the greed and selfishness of the financially strong people in the world who hardly know why they want to achieve this result. They destroy the Earth, human lives and everything around them only for the money. The bad thing is that in this process human and worker rights are lost, which the people have gained after years of struggle and bloodshed. But I think that no state is permanent, it changes and in the future there will be a change that must come from the wisdom and stay for a longer period of time for the benefit of mankind.

If we compare the two countries Bulgaria and Greece, in which one are workers better protected?

In Bulgaria, employers are still more serious and observe the laws. Because of this, it is still holding ground, because it has almost no manufacturing. Bulgaria has very weak trading and very little aid from Europe. Its debt is very small and this is all due to the strict observation of the laws by the Bulgarians.

Unfortunately, I see that Bulgarian employers are negatively influenced by the Greeks and Turks, who, as employers there gradually set a bad example and help to destroy the economy of Bulgaria. This should be monitored very closely. Nevertheless for the moment the situation of employees is better in Greece than in Bulgaria.

What do you dream of?

To raise my son. I hope he will always be well and become a good person.

And for yourself?

To help people as I can.

What is your message?

People should not forget that the woman represents the wisdom of nature. She is the guardian of the tradition and culture of a people. I think she has a greater responsibility for children and society that she will shape and I think she should be given a special place in society, she should be helped to understand her nature and to live by the wisdom that she has gained from this.

Tags: Society Bulgarians in Greece Kostadinka Kouneva attack acid union activity
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