Michalis Charalampidis is unemployed, but still has lots of work to do. He volunteers as a crisis doctor in Thessaloniki, offering medical advice and treating the poor. The catch: they pay nothing and he earns nothing.
The mound of frothed milk has collapsed and now sticks to the edge of the glass. Another morning in which Michalis Charalampidis barely gets the chance to drink his coffee. It is shortly after nine, and all the ivory colored chairs in the waiting room are full. There is the low sound of voices, the creak of the wooden floor, but the footsteps upon them are timid, for whoever comes here for help is ashamed at having to do so.
A petite woman, around the age of 40, heavy black makeup on her eyes and a sparkly rose in her blonde hair, is waiting to see the doctor. Her wait is long, but Michalis eventually calls her, his white coat flapping about behind him as he moves quickly between the treatment room, pharmacy and waiting area.
Free medication and examination
The doctor's surgery is in an old, five-room building in the center of Thessaloniki. Doctors, psychologists and social workers offer their help here, but only one in three of them is actually a staff member. Most work for nothing, performing root canal treatments, and taking blood.
In the pharmacy room, a nurse hands out medicine. Everything is free. But the work has become more difficult. "People used to donate medicine they didn't need," Michalis says. But like so much, that has recently changed.