We not only do geeky things.
A lady with a 2yo daughter came from the streets and was assigned a flat in my section (staircase). Few days later her husband has been released from prison and joined her — according to community rules he was her guest, as long as she liked it, but had no rights to the flat per se.
For few weeks the lady was attending community meetings and taking her share of work. The man showed once to introduce himself after he was stopped couple times in the neighborhood and asked who he is.
The previous night, hearing noises typical for violent quarrel we, the neighbors (5 people, men and women) paid them a visit to investigate. Men learned from the husband that the child swallowed 10-cent coin and they were just nervously discussing what to do. In separate room women learned from the lady that the husband takes hard drugs and drinks which turns him violent.
So we got them together and informed them that the community neither ignores nor accepts domestic violence and they will be watched. Then the lady surprisingly declared that if there is another situation like that, she would return the keys and move out voluntarily. So N. (my partner, lifetime buddhist and feminist, heavily into counseling women) explained the lady that if anybody is to move out, it is not her. And that it is enough to give us a shout and all kind of support will be provided.
At that we finished and left.
Next morning N. met the lady and learned that the man attacked her once more that night. She firmly asked him to leave and he conformed. We were quite happy seeing the change in her attitude and spent the day happily packing donated food for 35 families and single people in need in the neighborhood.
But of course we all knew that the case was not over.
Indeed, next night I was woken up again by a neighbor, and found the lady and the child with their bags packed, almost out and the guy comfortably sitting on the bed, explaining in a very friendly if slurred way that there is no problem, they were just discussing matters.
So N. took the lady upstairs to our flat while we informed the guy that he is leaving immediately, with preference of not coming back. By community rules we refrained from direct violence. The old “good anarchist, bad anarchist” game helped, this time bad anarchist being yours truly. But knowing the dynamics of such cases, the confrontation may still happen, unless the guy still has some contact with reality.
I was deadly tired and ill, but we managed to remove the guy, dropped his mobile, wristwatch and cigarette by the window.
Then we provided the lady with emergency mobile phone to call for help ICE, and went to sleep.
The guy returned half an hour later, but he bounced off the bolted front door. Later another neighbor came from the night shift job and stayed with the lady to keep watch.
Next day I put another bolt on her door so she can padlock the door relatively securely from both sides. N. will mobilize neighborhood women to give the lady more things to do and to protect her from possible stalking and harassment when outside.
In good circumstances we should have the guy’s items packed and put out soon and if he has any self-preservation instinct, he will disappear. We shall see.
The guy appeared in the middle of the day and his bed luck was that he stumbled upon me just by the front door. The lady allowed hin in, for the sake of seeing his child. But half an hour later, when we came to check the status, he was having a nap at the bed, not paying any attention to his daughter. So he has been led out again. Now, probably tomorrow, we will have a local neighbors’ discussion — including the lady — how to make it possible for the little girl to see her dad, without making it dangerous to herself and her mother. And without breaching the community security (the guy is now confirmed as a hard drug user).
Now, let me point out few things that may be not quite obvious, seen from afar.
Prosfygika people have no shelter to go. We ARE the shelter for each other.
While we certainly are not at the bottom of the society, we live in its underbelly. We are social dropouts — some by bad luck, some by choice, some by a series of wrong decisions. A variety of people: ex-addicts, ex-convicts, street warriors and street predators, anarchists, maoists and nihilists. Burned out ex-middle-class members who somehow slipped through the bottom and migrants — with good passports, bad passports and no passports at all.
We govern ourselves. We are friendly and relatively open to the outsiders, but we govern ourselves. We take initiative, we take responsibility, we make choices and we live — or die — with them.
I am curious, indeed, what is your, folks, perspective on this little story. And of course, if you want to help us with advice or practical contribution, you are invited to come and participate.