M.S.’s story: Life without smoking

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November 2018 – Volos, Greece

The Learner's Voice - GreeceWe experience authentic moments in our school, the Annex of the 6th Gymnasium of Volos which is housed in the Juvenile Prison of Volos. It does not matter whether they are dark moments.

We open the hermetically shut doors of our students’ souls, we teach not only the Greek language but also universal values through our lessons. We try to listen to them attentively and to help them come up with goals, vision and hope, without promises and whopping expectations. We bring out their positive efforts, like the one of M.S., a student of ours who quit smoking in prison and describes his experience in a humble text.

He took part with it in the competition “Life Without Smoking” and won the first prize in his category in the 8th Panhellenic Competition organized by the “George D. Behrakis” Institute, for a world without smoking. The award ceremony took place on Tuesday 6 November in Trikala.

The room was crowded and Deputy Minister of Education, Ms Tzoufi, was present. The award was received by two of his teachers, Anastasia Chatzipli (picture) and Ioannis Fovos, since the inmate himself could not attend the event for obvious reasons. He also won a 100 euro prize and a USB stick.

-by Mrs Anastasia Chatzipli, the school headmistress of the Gymnasium in Volos

“Life without smoking”

«No one would believe that I myself would manage to quit smoking.

I started at a really young age, when I was 12 years old, to look cool. I watched the older guys and could not realise the dangers and how unhealthy it was for me. It slowly turned into a habit and one cigarette went up to ten and so on.

At the age of 16-17, I wanted to stop. I didn’t have the stamina to run or swim and that annoyed me. 2-3 years went by and because of wanting to look cool I ended up in prison and having enough time there, I looked at the past in retrospect. I discovered my mistakes and through the dark moments, I managed to come out strong. Because if you don’t struggle during hard times, you will not make it in the easy times either.

When I decided to quit smoking here, some of the inmates laughed. I began slowly and it took me two weeks. On the first week with a couple of cigarettes a day, on the second I went back to it, and on the third week I was completely clean.

Now I feel very strong. I feel I have done the impossible under these circumstances. I have a better physical condition, I exercise, but most importantly, the inmates who used to laugh are now trying to quit as well and that gives me strength. I feel healthier and I believe that it is never too late to quit. If one day I feel vulnerable and want to start again, then I have to believe in myself. Because this is not how I show my strength. And seeing that I made it makes me move on one step at a time.

There are always sad moments on our way. If we break once, then it is easier to be taken over by our desires. Everything is in your mind. You can be a winner, but in a moment you can lose everything you have achieved by fighting hard.”

by M.S.