As, around the globe, we celebrate the birth of our Saviour as a vulnerable child, the Fund is delighted to announce our Christmas grants in aid of disabled and disadvantaged children, the elderly and isolated, those without vital healthcare, the persecuted and the marginalised. Thousands whose plight would otherwise be forgotten.
Thanks to our generous donors, the Fund will support Order projects providing healthcare for mothers and children across Africa and in the United States, dedicated transport for those in need in the Czech Republic and Mauritius, education for those without access to it in Romania, Ukraine, Argentina and Thailand and a brighter Christmas for the lonely in Lebanon, Cuba, Georgia, Albania and Poland.
This Christmas the Fund has awarded 25 grants to 18 bodies of the Order across 20 countries:
Healthcare Services, Embassy of the Order of Malta to Georgia
In the suburbs of Tbilisi, Georgia, large numbers of elderly and disabled people live without support or companionship. Often unable to leave their own homes, they live outside of the public eye, forgotten and without access to essential medical care or sufficient food. Through its Embassy in Georgia, the Order supports a network of nurses and social workers who provide medical care, food packages and companionship for 50 of those who would otherwise be alone.
Support for Refugee Families, Embassy of the Order of Malta to Thailand
Bangkok is home to a desperate population of Christian refugees that have fled religious persecution in Pakistan. They often arrive with only the most basic possessions and are unable to work to earn money whilst their asylum applications are processed. The Order is supporting 180 families with that process, as well as financial stipends, healthcare and education for 90 school-age children who cannot access the Thai system. A grant from the Fund is supporting medical fees, teachers’ salaries, rent, food and transport.
Integration of the Displaced Population, Grand Priory of Bohemia
In the Czech Republic, asylum seekers are often given no support by the state. The Order’s community centre provides administrative assistance for housing, employment, school and social services, as well as language and integration courses. A grant in 2017 allowed the project to expand from helping 200 to 500 people. They are now hiring a project manager, increasing visits to detention centres and expanding beyond Prague to the rest of the country.
School Transportation for Disabled Children, Grand Priory of Bohemia
Melnik county, in the Central Bohemia region of the Czech Republic, has no provision for children with disabilities to get to school, leaving many socially isolated and excluded from a mainstream education. The Order’s project fulfils this vital need, currently transporting 31 children with disabilities to school every day. A fourth car has recently been added to the project, meaning a further seven children can access school and an education. The Fund is supporting the expansion of this project through the provision of a driver, insurance and fuel.
Medical Centre for the Elderly, Albanian Relief Service
This centre, established by the Order, provides daily care and interaction for elderly people who have no resources, friends or family. As well as providing basic health care and access to social workers, the centre offers hot drinks and a chance to meet friends, read a newspaper and play cards, dominos or chess. The project attracts young volunteers who support the activities and outreach elements. The centre is open to all and aims to raise awareness of the hardships elderly people face and promote their rights to protection and social welfare.
After-School Programme for Children, Albanian Relief Service
In Albania, the public school day ends at 11.15am, leaving children without a proper education and parents unable to work to support the family. The Order runs an after-school centre for poor and socially deprived children in the rural areas of Shkodra. In this safe, clean and friendly environment, 30 children from deprived backgrounds receive help with their school work and participate in activities. As well as supporting these children and their families, the project also reduces the number of children who drop out of school entirely at a young age.
Construction of a School, Argentinian Association
Barrio Ramon Carrillo is a deprived suburb of Buenos Aires with no secondary education provision for poor children. These children grow up in poverty, exposed to drug abuse, crime and violence. Without education it is almost impossible for them to escape this cycle, and stay away from a life of crime. The Argentine Association has developed a Catholic secondary school, providing an alternative future, and this grant will contribute to phase three of the building project, doubling the number of children that can attend the school from 220 children to 450 children.
Prison Ministry, British Association
The United Kingdom has a prison population of just over 80,000. Many of these people are extremely vulnerable, and have a history of substance abuse, child abuse, self-harm and neglect. The Order is working with ex-offenders with a history of addiction and crime, giving them the support they need to review their lives and build more positive futures. The Nehemiah Project has three residences for ex-offenders and, with the Order, hopes to establish a fourth house, providing support for 20 men as they rebuild their lives and reintegrate into society.
Support for the Elderly, Cuban Association
In 2015 over 19% of the Cuban population were aged over 60, this is forecast to increase to 25% in 2025. The government provides little support and the Order has been providing homes, meals and companionship for the elderly for the last 16 years. The Order delivers food and provides medical support and physical activity workshops in its 49 care homes, increasing access to healthcare and companionship within the elderly community. A grant from the Fund is supporting the increase in the provision of meals across the Order’s homes.
Improving Maternal and Infant Healthcare, Ordre de Malte France, Benin
The reduction of maternal and infant mortality (a shocking 101 per 1,000 live births) in Benin is a priority for the government. The Order’s hospitals in Djougou, Benin, and Elavagnon, Togo, serve a region of 435,000 people. The Order aims to improve maternal and infantile health care in the area, focusing on the pediatric, gynecological and obstetric services. A grant from the Fund will support staff members and the training of over 100 local staff each year, embedding medical skills for future sustainability.
Extending Neonatal Healthcare, Ordre de Malte France, Madagascar
In 2016 neonatal mortality in Madagascar was 38 per 1,000 live births, almost ten times the rate of Switzerland. The Order’s maternity hospital in Antananarivo aims to reduce this by improving newborn care, particularly amongst premature babies and high-risk pregnancies. With a grant from the Fund, the Order is expanding its neonatology service with new equipment, and training for medical staff. The project expects a reduction in neonatal mortality to 10% in its second year, representing thousands of lives saved.
Investment in Medical Equipment, Ordre de Malte France, Cameroon/ Madagascar/ Benin/ Republic of Congo
Healthcare access is often very limited for poor and marginalised communities throughout sub-Saharan Africa, however the Order has a significant presence and programme of healthcare, providing vital diagnostic and treatment services, often as the only provider of high-quality care in these areas. To support this level of care, new equipment is needed in five of the hospitals to ensure continued quality of care.
Renovation of Medical Imaging Clinic, Ordre de Malte France, Senegal
Leprosy is still prevalent in pockets of the world. Sufferers often become disabled and require surgery and ongoing medical treatment. The Order’s clinic in Senegal treated 1,522 leprosy patients in 2017, however the equipment is deteriorating with the volume of patients. This grant will update equipment and allow structural renovation to increase the quality of care the Order offers some of society’s most vulnerable and neglected.
Education for Disabled Children, German Association, Lebanon
There is minimal provision for the disabled in Lebanon and care homes have limited resources. Being wheelchair-bound means children cannot attend school with their peers, leaving them without education or stimulus. In 2017, four boys were provided with lessons, and the impact on their development was so marked that the project will be extended. A specialist teacher will teach eight boys for four hours, four times a week, providing much-needed stimulus and education.
International Summer Camp for Disabled Young People, German Association
The Order’s youth camps are a huge source of joy for guests and volunteers alike. The volunteers that organise and staff these camps provide cultural and physical activities, from rock climbing, swimming and trampolining to museum and town visits, that go far beyond anything their guests are usually able to take part in. In 2019 the Camp will be held in Ettal, Germany, and a grant from the Fund will go towards providing food for the guests and volunteers throughout the camp.
Elderly Socio-Medical Centre, Lebanese Association
Facing harsh economic conditions, many young people have left villages in Lebanon in search of job opportunities, leaving behind elderly family members. In turn, living conditions for the elderly have deteriorated without adequate social and financial support from the state. The Order’s centres help over 1,000 elderly people by offering healthcare services, social activities and a place to meet each week. A grant from the Fund will support the services and activities that they provide, which have become such a vital service to the elderly in the region.
Transport Service for Marginalised Communities, Order of Malta Mauritius
9% of Mauritian families live below the poverty line and an increasing number of people are forced to leave their homes and live on the street. The Order provides free local transport for those from marginalised and poor communities, allowing them to reach essential local services, such a healthcare, that they would otherwise be unable to access. Supported by a grant from the Fund, the Order hopes to assist 150 beneficiaries in their first year of operation.
Christmas Community Support, Polish Association
Poverty in Poland is too widespread for the social welfare system to address alone, with 17% of the population living in poverty. The Oplatek Maltanski project arranges Christmas Eve dinners for those living in poverty, regardless of religion or race. The guests also receive a gift bags containing groceries, toys, fruits and sweets. The project will take place in 30 cities this year, supporting 3,000 people in need. A grant from the Fund will provide a Christmas dinner for 500 people from 5 cities across Poland.
Activities for Disabled Children, Romanian Relief Service
Romania has little state support for the disabled, and many are left in social isolation. Children without disabilities, in their turn, are educated in a system which does not bring them into contact with real life issues. Through their project ‘Together in a Common World’, the Order addresses both sides of this problem, bringing disabled children and children without disabilities together for weekly activities. This interaction increases social cohesion, providing vital stimulus for those with disabilities and widening the experience of those without. A grant from the Fund will support these activities for one year.
Centre for Families with Disabled Children, Romanian Relief Service
The Order provides specialised support, therapeutic activities and counselling for 15 families with disabled children in Blaj. Where there is otherwise very little support, this project tackles the difficult issues that affect families and help them to develop coping mechanisms. It also addresses some of the issues that cause many children to drop out of school. A grant from the Fund is supporting the re-design of a courtyard space, allowing more opportunities for outside activities, and the a much needed storage space outside the therapy room.
Nursing Home for the Elderly, Romanian Relief Service
Timisoara, in Romania, has a large number of elderly people, many of whom are forgotten by the state and by their families and who do not have the resources to access food, healthcare or local services without help. State support for the elderly remains limited and the number of people in need increasing. The Order’s Timisoara nursing home provides accommodation, meals and medical assistance for 20 elderly residents, providing them with a lifeline. A grant from the Fund will support the expansion of the building and staffing, increasing the number of residents to 26.
Centre for Mothers and Children, Romanian Relief Service
In Romania, segregation of the Roma community is a major problem, with many communities living in poverty and with low levels of education, including a lack of awareness of good hygiene and nutrition. The Order targets mothers of young children with a high risk of social exclusion. Up to 60 children will directly benefit, and their family members will too as better hygiene practices and skills are passed on. A grant from the Fund will provide teaching materials, hygiene materials, trips for the children and equipment.
Education and Integration of Roma Children, Ukrainian Relief Service
The population of Beregovo city is 20,000, of which 6,000-7,000 are ethnically Roma. Housed in segregated camps, they live in very poor conditions with no public services and limited education and employment prospects. The Order’s Ambassador for the Roma People identified the need for a school for this community. A building for 60 children has been purchased, but requires urgent renovation. A grant from the Fund is supporting the renovation, to provide an education for children in this deprived community.
Oakland Clinic of Northern California, US Western Association
The number of medically uninsured in the Bay area has been rising steadily. The majority are low wage employees from the Hispanic/Latino communities, juggling multiple low paying jobs to make ends meet. The “working poor” are a community often overlooked and the Order’s Clinic of Northern California provides them with free healthcare. A grant from the Fund will be used to acquire and equip an additional mobile medical clinic to expand their new outreach programme.
The Order of Malta Caravan Project, Lebanon
Each year, young international volunteers dedicate nine months to serving disabled residents of under-funded care homes in Lebanon through the Order of Malta Caravan. Many disabled children are abandoned at a young age and live in homes that struggle to provide even basic care. The volunteers work with over 900 vulnerable and isolated people each year, providing their only social contact, support and stimulus. A grant from the Fund will provide additional accommodation, increasing the number of volunteers from 15 to 24.