This Christmas grants round, which marks the Fund’s ten year anniversary, 32 grants have been awarded to 21 entities of the Order in 21 countries. Each of these works will greatly impact the lives of the world’s most vulnerable.
Nutritional Education for Young Mothers, Brazilian Association of Sao Paolo & Southern Brazil
A healthy, nutritious diet is essential to early childhood physical development, health and well-being. In the slums of Sao Paolo extreme poverty, high unemployment, and a lack of sanitation and education has left many families unable to afford or access fresh produce. Poor diet leads to increasing cases of malnutrition and obesity amongst young children. During the pandemic, the Cruz de Malta Assistance Centre distributed food packages and in doing so discovered many mothers did not know how to prepare or cook healthy food, a significant barrier to good child nutrition. The Fund supported this project in 2021 when a kitchen garden was created and 80 mothers with children aged 2-8 years old were taught how to provide nutritious, low-cost meals for their families. The women also gain a qualification to sell ready meals to the local community, thereby becoming financially independent. This year the Fund is supporting a second cohort of 80 women in the same way.
Support & Integration for Vulnerable Children through Sport, Lebanese Association
The children of Lebanon are bearing the brunt of the country’s economic collapse. Around 15% of families have stopped educating their children and one in 10 children are sent out to work; putting their health, education, and well-being at risk. With support from the Fund, a project was launched in 2022 bringing 365 vulnerable children aged six to fifteen together once a week for football and basketball training. Following the success of the pilot year, further support from the Fund will support the second year of the programme, including children from all nine of the Association’s healthcare centres, increasing the number of participants to 520 children. Alongside professional coaches, volunteers support these children to combat stress and anxiety, and learn life skills such as leadership, respect, teamwork, and communication through sport. There are also workshops with social workers to discuss issues such as nutrition, personal hygiene, and self-esteem.
Improving Maternal and Infant Healthcare, Order of Malta France
Djougou in Northwest Benin has a growing population and limited medical resources, the infant mortality rate is 16 times higher than in the UK. The Order of Malta hospital is one of only two in northern Benin to have a neonatology department. In 2019 it became a specialist mother and child centre, carrying out over 13,000 mother and child related consultations and 4,000 safe deliveries a year. The hospital ensures women and children can access affordable high quality medical care that enhances their long-term health outcomes and in many cases is ultimately lifesaving. Support from the Fund over a number of years has enabled the hospital to develop their maternal and child health services. This latest grant, providing vital equipment such as a cold chain for medication and safe storage for fluid gases such as oxygen, is increasing outreach services to remote communities in the region.
Community Centre for the Vulnerable Elderly, Chilean Relief Service
Chépica, Chile, is a remote town two and a half hours South of Santiago. An area prone to natural disasters, many people in Chépica struggle to financially provide for their families. Many elderly people, who can no longer work, are either abandoned or cannot be taken care of by their families. State funded homes are already overcrowded, therefore support from the Fund is assisting in the creation of a day centre. This centre, positioned at the heart of the “Maltese Market” (created to increase job opportunities following an earthquake in 2010), providing a hub for the elderly and other isolated groups in the area, reducing loneliness and helping re-establish ties with their community. The centre is open twice a week with volunteers supporting 80 people a month with activities to promote improved physical and mental health.
“Old is Gold” Day Care Centre for the Elderly, Albanian Relief Service
Many elderly people in Albania face hunger, health concerns and loneliness without family or friends to support them. The Order’s “Old is Gold” centre in Shkoder provides daily support and social interaction for over 1,000 isolated elderly people. As well as basic health care and access to social workers, the centre offers hot drinks, a chance to meet friends, read the newspaper and play cards, dominos or chess. Celebrating birthdays together and organising pilgrimages and field trips creates a sense of friendship and community for many who would otherwise have no one to speak to. The centre also provides a hot Sunday meal to over 200 people each week. The Fund’s most recent grant supports the development of an at home call system enabling those who cannot easily leave their home to request support, enabling a faster, more targeted and effective response from the volunteers.
Access to Dentistry for Vulnerable Children, Brazilian Association of Sao Paolo & Southern Brazil
Dental decay and early tooth loss can lead to serious health complications and long-term oral conditions such as reduced chewing capacity and chronic jaw pain, as well as creating aesthetic issues that can severely affect a child’s self-esteem. Most complications can easily be avoided if identified and treated early, but many parents lack information about prevention and cannot afford the prohibitive cost of general dentistry. The Cruz de Malta Assistance Centre is expanding their existing programme addressing vision, hearing and speech impairments to include dental care. A grant from the Fund will enable 300 children from the slums of Sao Paolo aged 6-14, to learn about good oral health, with staff and volunteers distributing information and oral hygiene kits to families, and carrying out assessments and treatment.
“Every Child Ready to Read” After-School Programme, Albanian Relief Service
The first session of primary school in Albania runs from 7.30 to 11.30am, leaving many disadvantaged families struggling to juggle childcare and employment. The Albanian Relief Service provides a safe, friendly space for children aged 6-12 to go during the day helping with homework, teaching many to read, and running extra-curricular activities, keeping children engaged in their education and allowing parents to earn a living. The children are from disadvantaged families, including those who are orphans, have a parent in prison, or from low-income and single-parent families. The centre also offers outdoor games and activities to develop social skills and runs a summer camp for the children. With support from the Fund the project is expanding this year, doubling the number of children who can attend to 45.
Kindergarten for Children in Need, Albanian Relief Service
Many families in Albania are forced to choose between purchasing medicine and food or providing childcare while they are at work. This kindergarten is a lifeline to 80 children (aged 3-6), from poor and marginalised families who cannot afford the expensive monthly fee for private kindergartens or are unable to access state ones that meet their children’s needs. It is also the only kindergarten in the region which welcomes disabled and Roma children, helping all children integrate with their peers and receive the same positive start in life. The long opening hours ensure parents can leave their children in a safe environment for the whole working day, provided with a hot meal and educational activities. On Saturdays, it also functions as a social centre providing extra-curricular activities for children to learn and develop further social skills.
Integration Programme for Refugees, Lithuanian Relief Service
Lithuania had little recent experience with refugees, but since the beginning of the Ukraine war over 65,000 people have sought shelter in the country. Volunteers from the Relief Service have provided initial crisis support, providing food, medicine and shelter, to over 20,000 Ukrainian refugees in 11 locations across the country. A grant from the Fund strengthened and developed this work’s emphasis on integration by training volunteers to offer a full integration programme now that the initial crisis phase is over. A grant from the Fund this cycle will fund a dedicated centre to expand services to meet the urgent demand for services such as consultations for housing, schooling and jobs, language courses, group therapy, and a place to meet and build a community as these refugees adapt to their new life in Lithuania.
Logistical Support for Ukraine Crisis Response, Ukrainian Relief Service
The volunteers and staff of the Ukrainian Relief Service in Beregovo have been working tirelessly to support the many hundreds of thousands of desperate people arriving in their region. There are currently 250,000 internally displaced people living in the Transcarpathia region of Ukraine, with supplies of basic goods such as food, medication and fuel running low. The Beregovo delegation continues to process truckloads of aid, distributing it to those in need in the region as well as further into Ukraine; to Lviv, Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kherson and more. With support from the Fund, the Relief Service has purchased a forklift truck and transportation vehicles, and hired additional staff members, relieving the pressure on the team and increasing their capacity to carry out transports to communities in need.
Kindergarten for Vulnerable Children, Brazilian Association of Sao Paulo and Southern Brazil
The Cruz de Malta Assistance Centre serves the Jabaquara district of Sao Paolo where 20% of the population lives in slums, lacking basic sanitation and vulnerable to crime, drug abuse and human trafficking. Before entering state education at six years old, children are often left at home or on the streets whilst their parents work. With support from the Fund, the project cares for 60 socially vulnerable children (aged 4-6) five days a week during school hours, guaranteeing their safety while their families are at work and unable to provide alternative care for them. The children are given a safe space to learn and play, as well as nutritious meals, lessons in personal hygiene, and activities designed to benefit their early year’s social and emotional development.
Food for Families in Poverty, Argentinian Association
Argentina is facing the worst economic crisis in its history. Eight million children live below the poverty line, and the knock-on impact of COVID 19 restrictions left many families struggling to survive. Many of those living in the poorest areas of Buenos Aires receive no state support and live in deplorable conditions. The Argentinian Association serves nearly 8,000 disadvantaged people every week with vital food supplies including meat, milk, fresh vegetables and long-lasting canned goods. Support from the Fund is ensuring the continuation of this work, enabling the Argentine Association to keep providing relief to these marginalised communities and ensure many thousands in need can access a daily meal.
Shelter for Ukrainian Refugees, Polish Association
Over five million people have crossed the border into Poland since February 2022. Warsaw now hosts a growing community of over 300,000 Ukrainian refugees – 10% of the city’s population. The St John Foundation Centre in Warsaw operates a soup kitchen serving 100 people twice a week, as well as a day care centre for isolated elderly people. They responded to the Ukraine crisis by transforming into a temporary shelter for refugees. A grant from the Fund will support the renovations to maintain the centre’s existing services as well as providing apartments for 11 refugees as well as job support, legal advisory services, and a weekly lunch.
Centre for Families with Disabled Children, Romanian Relief Service
The Order’s centre in Blaj provides a support programme for 30 disabled children and young people with disabilities who are not able to access mainstream education. Since 2013, the centre has offered a range of integrated services including speech therapy, psychotherapy, animal therapy and adapted education to give these young people increased autonomy and an opportunity to reach their full potential. It also provides counselling and advice to support parents to better care for their disabled children. The Fund’s grant will help move the centre to a new building, so that the programme can increase capacity, meet demand, and offer a wider range of services.
Day Care Centre for Disabled Children, Embassy to Morocco
In the remote Atlas Mountains, children with motor disabilities rarely receive the care they need due to their lack of access to support. Without regular treatment, there is no improvement in motor function and no hope of reaching a level of independence. With support from the Fund the Order’s Embassy to Morocco is establishing the Order’s first project in the country; a day care centre for disabled children, welcoming 10 children for around 250 sessions of physiotherapy a year, increasing the chances of disabled children in the region reaching their full potential. The centre is also offering support and advice to the families on how best to give effective at-home care.
Support for Vulnerable Children through Music, Lebanese Association
The multitude of crises that has beset Lebanon in the past three years has pushed over half a million children in the Beirut area alone into extreme poverty. Increasing numbers of children are forced to leave the classroom and join the workforce to support their families. This new project will provide a rare opportunity for 50 vulnerable children to come together every week and boost their mental wellbeing through the power of music. Singing has been shown to build confidence, relieve stress and increase social cohesion. With support from the Fund the project will enable these children to access a positive and creative outlet and form a safe, welcoming community.
Community Centre for the Roma Community, Slovakian Relief Service & Embassy to the Roma People
The town of Topolcany is home to around 320 Roma people, who currently live in a rundown industrial area, excluded from the rest of the neighbourhood. The community suffers from low levels of education and employment, and children lack ambition or aspirations for a better future. The Slovakian Relief Service are opening the Order’s first permanent centre for the Roma people in Slovakia. It will provide activities to support the integration, education, and employment opportunities for this marginalised group. A grant from the Fund has supported the completion of the renovation of the building hosting the project.
Enabling Independence for Elderly and Disabled People, British Association
This project reduces loneliness and social isolation and promotes inclusion for the elderly and disabled through the provision of accessible and affordable transport. A fleet of minibuses in Scotland opens up opportunities for those unable to use conventional public transport to leave their homes and carry out day-to-day activities. Around 600 people benefit from this service every year, taking 40,000 passenger trips to go to medical appointments, hospitals and into town centres. Support from the Fund will help replace a minibus, maintaining the current capacity of the service and reaching further into remote communities.
Care at Home for the Elderly and Disabled Lithuanian Relief Service
State provision in Lithuania only covers two medical home care visits a week, leaving many elderly people alone, struggling to perform essential health actions such as bedsore and wound care, diabetes control, injections and medication use. The Lithaunian Relief Service, which has an extensive programme of support for the elderly in need across the country, has recently been granted state permission to provide medical services in Vilnius and Telsai. This grant would fund health professionals working alongside the existing volunteer teams to ensure 50 people are able to live a safe, content and supported old age.
Support for Vulnerable People Leaving Care, Lithuanian Relief Service
Young people with a history of foster or institutional care often lack the confidence, role models, life skills, and opportunities to successfully transition into independent adulthood. Over 1,000 children in Lithuania leave care every year with limited social support available. In 2022, the Relief Service launched a pilot programme to create a holistic support service to give young people the best possible start in their new life. Further support from the Fund will allow the programme to expand to a third location, providing supported accommodation, mentoring, career guidance and vocational training to 45 vulnerable young people.
Help Line for the Vulnerable Elderly, Romanian Relief Service
The Romanian Relief Service have a substantial programme caring for elderly people struggling with living alone. The COVID-19 pandemic shifted their activity to visiting people in their homes, and during this time they identified many elderly people in dire need who were not able to attend centres to get help. The Relief Service is setting up a new elderly care project in Baia Mare to care for 30 isolated and unsupported old people. A grant from the Fund will pay for the set-up costs of a portable alarm call system, giving this vulnerable group a vital sense of security and enabling volunteers to identify needs more effectively.
Community Care Hub for Vulnerable Communities Australian Association
Many people living in the suburb of Darebin, Victoria live in poverty, often housebound by mental and physical health conditions, and unaware of the social services available to them. With support from the Fund, the Australian Association has launched a Community Care Hub to reach out to those isolated and in need. A weekly mobile outreach service will help volunteers engage with residents, as well as running a homework club twice a week for 16 primary age children. Literacy classes, legal advice and health checks will be added incrementally as volunteers build trust and awareness within the community.
Improving Neonatal Care, Order of Malta France
The Order of Malta’s hospital in Elavagnon, Togo, cares for over 3,000 children and 1,200 pregnant women each year. In 2015, the hospital established a maternity ward and the neonatal mortality rate has since reduced to significantly below the national average. Order of Malta France are restructuring the maternity, gynaecology and paediatrics departments to improve the quality of care provided and create a dedicated mother and child unit. A grant from the Fund is supporting these improvements, including a new room for nursing mothers, upgraded equipment and the expansion of the nutritional garden.
Homecare for the Isolated Elderly, Romanian Relief Service
The number of elderly people in Romania suffering from chronic health conditions and unable to leave their homes continues to increase, and isolation is an ongoing issue. Many elderly people in Romania are unable to access at-home social and medical care services due to a lack of state provision. With support from the Fund, the Romanian Relief Service are creating a homecare service, supporting 30 vulnerable elderly people with vital medical support as well as assistance with shopping and cleaning, providing transport, and accompanying them to appointments or activities.
Residential Care for the Vulnerable Elderly, Mexican Association
For many elderly Mexicans and their families, everyday life is a struggle. Coping with medical issues and financial instability, approximately 47% of Mexicans over the age of 60 live in poverty. The Hogar San Juan is a safe haven to those in need of care and support in their later years. Around 56 vulnerable elderly people with debilitating medical issues such as dementia, disability or chronic conditions are cared for in the home. Support from the Fund this year will pay for the installation of solar panels, providing a reliable, renewable source of energy, reducing energy bills by 75%.
Youth Camp for Disabled People, German Association
Many disabled young people in Romania have few chances to leave their care homes, which due to lack of funding and staff shortages are only able to meet their basic needs. In conjunction with the Romanian Relief Service, young volunteers from the German Association run holiday camps for disabled young people every summer. The camps enables 120 guests to experience a fortnight of accessible activities in a supportive community, giving the opportunity to socialise with their peers, bringing new experiences, raising aspiration and combating the isolation they face.
Improving Medical Facilities for Vulnerable People, Order of Malta France
The St Jean de Malte Hospital in rural Njombe, Cameroon, is the only source of high-quality healthcare for tens of thousands of vulnerable people every year in a region with only one doctor for every 10,000 people. It is also a centre of excellence for the country, training 25 new interns every year, boosting the medical capacity of Cameroon. Support from the Fund will improve the infrastructure of the hospital; upgrading the electrical system and re-roofing the main building to improve efficiency, reduce running costs and ensure staff and patient safety.
Vital Supplies for People in Need, Embassy to Bulgaria
During the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers from the Bulgarian Embassy started a new project to provide food and hygiene packages to those in need in Sofia. With support from the Fund, the Embassy has made this an annual project, easing the burden of 1,500 of the most vulnerable during the winter months when many are forced to make a choice between bills and food or medicine. A further grant from the Fund will mean that a further 700 people in the deprived northern region of Bulgaria will not be forgotten.
Integrating Displaced People, Grand Priory of Bohemia
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, over 400,000 Ukrainians have sought safety in the Czech Republic and accommodation is increasingly difficult to secure. The Grand Priory has been working with refugees since 2017, providing a range of integration services, and is currently focussed on supporting those arriving from Ukraine. With support from the Fund, this project will provide over 300 refugees with access to counselling, medical care, schools and language lessons, and employment.
Caring for Mothers and Babies, Holy Family Hospital, Bethlehem
The Order of Malta’s Holy Family Hospital provides high quality vital neonatal healthcare to poor and refugee families in the Bethlehem region. It is the only facility in the West Bank equipped to deliver babies before 32 weeks, and one in ten babies born there requires neonatal intensive care. A grant from the Fund is enabling the hospital to help an extra 800 women a year through its ‘Poor Case Fund’ subsidising care for the most disadvantaged patients.
Outreach Programme to Vulnerable Communities, Colombian Association
The Colombian Association has recently established a youth volunteer corps. They have formed a relationship with two parish centres in disadvantaged neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Bogota and with support from the Fund will start to provide monthly activities for vulnerable groups in the area, bringing volunteers and those in need together to enjoy social activities and forming a committed and growing community of Order volunteers.
Tea Parties for the Elderly, British Association
Volunteers in Scotland host monthly tea parties for vulnerable and isolated elderly people, providing friendship and helping combat their loneliness. A grant from the Fund has enabled the programme to expand to two new regions, providing a regular opportunity for companionship to 60 vulnerable elderly people in isolated communities.