The children of life

Christina is 13 years old and lives with her grandmother and her sister in Spata, east of Athens. Her mother is in a facility receiving treatment for drug addiction; her father’s identity is unknown to her.

Marjon, aged 23, is Albanian and lives alone somewhere on the outskirts of Kavala in northern Greece. He works as a goatherd, but his Facebook page says he is a DJ at a bar. He loves hip-hop music, dressing the part and posting photographs of himself on the social networking website. He says he loves driving off-road trucks and motorcycles. His Facebook page gradually reveals his solitary life, painting a picture of an immature young man who has few friends, dresses like hip-hop star Eminem and adopts his mannerisms, using American slang. Another photograph shows him at a Greek Orthodox wedding in his village.

A romance begins to blossom on Facebook. Christina, underaged and developing a serious crush, is convinced to run away from home and meet the young man in northern Greece. On her Facebook page, she says: “This is what a great love is like. It takes you to the moon and leaves you there, trying to find a way back.”

Christina heads to her moon in northern Greece on an intercity bus. Her sister knows what’s going on. Once her grandmother notices that the young girl is missing, she immediately files a report with the police and an Amber Alert is issued for the teenager.

Christina and Marjon wander the woods of Mount Paggaio, eating bread and cheese they were given by a shepherd. An police helicopter flies overhead looking for them. And then they are found. Christine begs the police officers not to hurt Marjon and tells her grandmother that she will run away again, that she is 13 years old and that she just wants someone to care for her. He tells investigators that he has done nothing he regrets, but he is charged with a serious felony: abducting a minor. On Facebook, other users hurl abuse at him, calling him a “damn Albanian.” There is no criticism for Christina.

Pier Paolo Pasolini, the great Italian writer and intellectual, called such youngsters “ragazzi di vita,” the children of life, in his novel of the same title. In his book, they were the youngsters who lived in the slums of Rome, whose lives came to ignoble ends. Christina and Marjon are the children of life, of Spata and Kavala.