For the Love of Valerie by Linka A. Odom
I went to Greece with the idea of finding a story, yet the story found me. A man playing chess next to a convenience store with a most incredible face. He invited me to sit with him.
So it begun, each night we would meet at Exarchia Square, where his evenings were spent. Valerie was born in Kazakhstan, he moved to Greece 27 years ago. In the last weeks of April 2015 he was kicked out of his home, a home for refugees. He is 69, with no papers, now living on the streets of Athens.
Once an Orthodox Christian, he lost his faith many years ago. Music became his livelihood. In the Greek crisis, musicians became expendable. I felt his exhaustion, trying to survive.
What I discovered was that friendship was his only means of survival. The love that surrounded him was potent. This is, ‘For the Love of Valerie’.