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An act of kindness in the midst of Greece's debt crisis

Moved by an image of an older Greek man weeping after he was unable to withdraw his weekly pension, a Sydney-based finance CEO offered to help him. 

Christian Hartmann /Reuters
People queue to use an ATM in Athens, Greece.

An Australian businessman has offered to financially support a Greek retiree whose image went viral after he was pictured sobbing outside a bank.

Giorgos Chatzifotiadis, age 77, broke down in Greece’s second largest city of Thessaloniki last Friday in hopelessness after he had failed at four different financial institutions to withdraw a pension of €120 ($133), Agence France-Presse reported.

The image of the elderly man sitting on the streets openly crying and distressed starkly captured the despair many in the country feel over the ongoing debt crisis.

James Koufos, chief executive of a finance firm in Sydney, was moved by the image. With the help of his mother, he identified Chatzifotiadis as an old friend of his late father. Koufos, whose parents are from Greece, put an appeal on his Facebook page to help track down Chatzifotiadis and pay his pension.

I urge all my Facebook friends to please help us track this man even the journalists who wrote this or anyone out there who may have media ties please urgent! This man is a old school friend of my late father! Gap finance and I will pay this man’s pension for 12 months plus!!! As long as it takes!! 170 euros a week? We will give him 250 euros! I will never allow to see a fellow Greek proud hardworking man starve!! Please please if anyone can help track this man down with his details I urge you to contact us please!!!!! Please anyone who can help with his whereabouts and details!!

Since his first Facebook post earlier this week, Koufos says he has received about four or five thousand euros from others who also want to help Chatzifotiadis. Koufos also intends to use part of the inheritance his father left him to help the pensioner.  

'Seeing those photos, it really hit me … I got very emotional,' Koufos told the Daily Mail, 'I live a relatively comfortable life here in Sydney - to see someone who has worked hard his entire life and can't even get a pension to feed his wife and family, that's not right.' 

The 41-year-old Koufos will fly to Greece on Saturday to meet the pensioner.

Eurozone leaders gave Greek a Sunday deadline to reach an agreement to save its collapsing economy from disaster. Last Sunday, Greek voters rejected an international creditors’ bailout terms in a referendum. 

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