vickys-storyViki used to live in Sofia, with her family – her husband and her 2 sons. She was working as a teacher in a primary school for 19 years, and her husband had a liquor store. Her and her family’s life was comfortable, until in 1989 there was an economic crisis in Bulgaria, and especially people having to repay loans were put at a tight spot. That scared her and her husband, and she proposed that they would immigrate in order to win some money, in order to be able to offer a more secure future to their sons. They decided to both register to an employment agency that offered opportunities for work abroad. At the agency, they were informed that a key skill in order to find work abroad was speaking a foreign language. Viki could speak Greek (note: Viki’s grandparents on the side of her mother spoke Greek, living close to the borders on the side of Bulgaria, and Viki learned Greek at a level adequate to communicate and work from her grandmother).

Soon the agency called Viki and told her that she could work in Cyprus, as a kitchen helper. She told her husband that it was an opportunity for her to go to Cyprus and work for a time of 4-5 months during the summer and see the circumstances in order to move there with her husband at some point in the future. So she went to Cyprus at the age of 39 and worked in a traditional Cypriot tavern at a village in the area of Pafos (mainly working with tourists), for 4 months. When she returned to Bulgaria, Viki told her husband that she had an offer by the tavern owners to go back to Cyprus and work there with a Visa, and they would also find work to her husband within 6 months, because by law it was not permitted to separate couples. Her husband replied that he was not quite ready at the time to move to Cyprus, but if she went to work there and they would indeed find him employment, he would follow.vickys-story2

So, in that arrangement, on October 1994 she went back to Cyprus in order to stay and work for 4 years (maximum time allowed). After a few months there, indeed she got a job offer for her husband as a driver, but he turned it down. In the meantime, her eldest son followed her to Cyprus to study so that he would avoid his military service in Bulgaria. Soon afterwards her younger son told her that her husband’s girlfriend had been living in their home for 1,5 years already, and no one had told her because they were scared. Viki, following the first shock, kept contact with him and in fact told him that she can forgive him and start all over again if he is willing to take their son and come to her in Cyprus. When there was no reply, she decided to start the divorce procedure. So Viki got both her sons in Cyprus, both of them studying in Nicosia and her working in Pafos in order to support them.

However, an unexpected event forced her to leave Cyprus: Her youngest son, wanting to avoid to study in the Lyceum (Upper High School), and while travelling to Bulgaria for summer vacation, didn’t declare in the immigration office that he was to start school in September and that his mom is legally working in Cyprus, and as a result he was blacklisted – meaning he would not be allowed again to return to Cyprus. So Viki had to leave her job and friends in Cyprus, and return to Bulgaria to be with her sons. There, Viki decided to take her sons and go to Greece, because a friend she had made in Cyprus lived in Athens and she could help her with finding a job and a school for the younger son. So on the 26th of October, the St. Demetrios day, Viki took her little golden cross, had it “read” (=blessed) in the St. Demetrios church, and went off with her sons to cross the Greek-Bulgarian borders.

While she expected to get a visa as a Sarakatsani (= an ethnic group of Greek origin living in parts of north Greece and south Bulgaria), because of her mother’s origin, by paying 3.000 leva, they only approved a 10day tourist visa. While in Athens, Viki and her sons applied for Greek citizenship declaring their Greek descent, and they got a permit to live in Greece for 3 years, as a prerequisite in order for their application to go through. Her eldest son got a job in a hotel in Kos, and her younger son joined the Lyceum to finish High School, while Viki got a job first as a nanny and to care for the elderly of a family and later she was encouraged to apply as a cleaner in the surgery rooms of a hospital.

vickys-story3In 2003, and while Viki was planning to return to Cyprus because she had family living there by that time, she had a serious car accident that caused her a serious leg injury that didn’t allow her to move like before, or work. Moreover, the court trial for the accident took until 2010 to be completed. Viki had to stop working and get a disability pension.

Since 2010 both of her sons work and live in the UK, and her elder son has a family and a small daughter. Viki lives in Greece and visits them for a period of 6-8 months every year. Viki and her sons have nothing to tie them to Bulgaria anymore and they don’t go back, except for the elder son – his wife is Bulgarian and he visits his in-laws.