Childhood now and in previous years (6th interview)
We now start with the 6th interview for this program with Ms Antonia Chatzigianni and Ms Popi Livaniou, both being permanent residents of Halki, to talk to us about childhood now and in previous years.
- So Antonia tell us please in general terms, when children were born did they face difficulties during their infancy or early childhood?
First of all the children were born here in the island by a midwife. There were many difficulties because there was no doctor, but only a practical nurse, a midwife. Any woman that was to give birth, called the midwife. I, specifically, was five years old when my mother gave birth at home. 2-3 women came along with the midwife, without electricity, only with an oil lamp. I think it was all happening with the help of God, they were lucky.
- Were there any accidents?
Yes there were accidents, but many women who gave birth, would actually be givin birth under difficult conditions, often being alone. They were very lucky and had robust bodies. Back then there were not so many infections as they are today.
In the kid’s growing up there were also difficulties. Most women breastfed until children being two or three years and thus protected the child from diseases. Not all children could be vaccinated. Some children were getting serious illnesses such as polio, some children died from peritonitis, but people did not know the cause, saying most of the times “There was a problem with the kid’s bowel”.
- Did they manage to get to the hospital in Rhodes in all cases?
If they could make it there, then yes. The life of a child growing up in such an environment, did not iclude many experiences, TV or books with tales to sharpen the child’s mind. Thus, we produced games like rag dolls for girls, and guns made of wood boys to engage the children.
At school I think we had good teachers. Nobody was from here, they were all from Athens, Rhodes , and others from elsewhere. We had only primary school and the teachers looked after thei children and urged them to move forward. There were not many things to do – at school they were playing football, fishing was their hobby, and other activities that one could do on the island, but had really no other options.
- How many children were there at school?
Back in 1970 there were about 35-40 children. They were not only form Chalki but from places like Leros and Kalymnos because their parents were fishermen in Halki.
- How about you Popi, what would you like to say about childhood in Halki?
We clearly had not so difficult lives because of a greater economic prosperity, thus we had games, we had many amenities. Regarding our childhood, we spent it very nicely. I have many good memories from my own childhood. We all hang out together, playing in the squares, went to school and then it was always playtime. We had little choice of course, but always found something new to do. I have noticed that this has now been lost because of television, because the parents are more flexible because of the Internet, facebook etc. There are cases that children that are in the same shop and talk through facebook. In the summer where more children are coming, the same thing is observed. They devote too much time to sit around playing with their tablets and be 5 children separately. I think it is a matter of parents and education. For us this was not the case, but we would not be allowed to do so. The upbringing and education were different. In terms of education, I finished in 2004.
- How many children were there in school?
I was on my own in the classroom. In elementary school, because it was a two-seater, I used to hang out with other kids from the same class , but in high school and afterwards I was mostly by myself, unless I had company … because someone was left behind (in terms of non-achievement in higher levels)!
I do not feel, however, that i lacked something. And that was beacuse school time was all the same. Then, although I did not have any peers, we all hang out together. Today the same happens to some extent because there are only few children in each class.
- Compared to the upbringing of a child in a bigger city what are the differences with growing up in Halki?
In a city there are too many options, but life on the island has nothing to do with life in a large city. The child there has many privileges, can go for sports, athletics, basketball, gym, schools, further education, additional languages, we do not have anything like that. Beyond that, however, outside school, children are very limited in the city. Because untile they reach to an age that is reliable for them to go out alone, so they can be trusted by the parent, i.e. up to 16-17, they lack other things that we do not. We are always hanging around outside since we we’ve been 8 years old and our parents are not afraid, they are assured. I can say that we grew better, more humanly maybe.
- Antonia, what would you like to say on this?
Children who grew up in Halki, are more balanced children. They grow up in freedom, not being afraid of taking risks in a city, and parents are not worried. In cities children either inside or outside schools, may be lured by various groups, because until one child gets to adolescence is one of the the hardest phases of life , and for that matter the child of the island is more balanced. It is close to nature. Instead, the city offers you more options such as schools etc.
- Would you have liked to had been grown in a city?
No and i would choose the same for my child. I have never regretted this decision and my children too.
- Popi, you grew up here, you got educated in another place. Would you prefer to have lived something different, perhaps would you prefer to have had finished school in Athens, Rhodes or even Rethymnon where you studied in the University as well?
No. I do not feel that I missed something. I actually think that i lived very nice, I have many good memories. Since i was very young i used to go fishing, we were close to nature, going to gather almonds, by the age of 14 we were going out and our parents had peace of mind, while other kids don’t do these things. There were also no problems such as drug related problems, alcoholism (although we had cases of this), we learned by being free. I would not change my years that i grew up in Halki with living in an in apartment, knowing that I have thousands of options but I’m in the apartment, away from nature.
- Thank you. I hope that you can take part in a future trip related to this program.
- Popi: We have a marriage to prepare now..
- Well after or before the wedding, you decide.