Forgotten People

Christmas Grant Awards 2020

This Christmas, 41 grants have been awarded supporting the reach and impact of the Order’s work across six continents, providing education, food and medical care for some of the world’s most vulnerable.

Asia Pacific Summer Camp for Disabled Youth, Australian Association

Young people with disabilities often face intense loneliness and frustration as access to the same activities as their peers may be difficult.  The Order of Malta’s Asia-Pacific Youth Camp hosts guests for a week of fun, friendship and adventure, building lifelong friendships and giving guests the opportunity to achieve more than they ever thought possible. These activity weeks can make a lasting transformation in participants’ self-confidence. In 2021 the fourth Asia Pacific camp will be held in Queensland, Australia, where over 50 young people with disabilities and 100 volunteers from across the region will enjoy drama workshops, water sports, discos and trips to wildlife sanctuaries and theme parks.

Education and Employment Support for Leprosy Sufferers, CIOMAL

Despite the popular myth that leprosy is a disease of the past, around 200,000 people are diagnosed annually, often individuals already significantly affected by poverty and social exclusion. In Cambodia, the Order cares for sufferers of leprosy, who frequently face discrimination as a result of their illness. With support from the Fund, CIOMAL provides access to education through scholarships, and financial support through small-business loans, to thousands of young families and children affected by leprosy, allowing them to live independent lives and have a more prosperous future. In 2021, further support will allow the programme to make a difference to 300 more people.

‘El Mercado de Francisco’ Food Distribution Programme (COVID-19), Colombian Association

The Order in Colombia provides nutritious food for Venezuelan migrants and poor Colombian families through their ‘Mercado de Francisco’ programme. Quarantine measures put in place to counter COVID-19 mean that many who relied on selling goods in the streets have lost their livelihoods, and more families need help than ever. Support from the Fund in 2020 has enabled the Order to expand its delivery service, reaching 250 vulnerable families with vital food supplies including rice, pulses and flour. A grant this Christmas will allow the programme to bring 500 poor families the food they need.

Integrating Displaced People, Grand Priory of Bohemia

In the midst of the greatest displacement of peoples for over half a century, the Order is working to help newcomers integrate effectively on their arrival in new countries. In Prague, the Grand Priory of Bohemia provides a range of services to arriving refugees, including practical help with asylum applications, accessing benefits, housing and basic provisions. It supports psychosocial and medical assistance programmes as well as specific courses to improve understanding of the local culture and language. The Fund’s support will mean the project, now helping over 500 people, can reach a further 200 people.

Socio-Medical Care for Disadvantaged Children, Lebanese Association

Over a million people in Lebanon live in poverty, a number continuing to rise in the face of political and economic strife, the effects of COVID-19 and the recent Beirut explosion in which 300,000 people lost their homes. With healthcare under threat and scarcity of available medicines, the Order in Lebanon are working to improve medical care for 12,000 vulnerable Lebanese and refugee children across the Order’s nine healthcare centres. A grant from the Fund will support the delivery of dental kits to over 2,000 children, as well as a series of health education campaigns and the purchase of vital medicines.

Socio-Medical Centres for the Elderly, Lebanese Association

The elderly, already often isolated and in need, have been hit hard by the pandemic. In early 2020, the Order of Malta’s day care centres in Roum and Kefraya were providing over 1,000 vulnerable elderly people across 62 villages with hot meals, healthcare and social activities. The centres closed their doors to protect guests and staff from COVID-19, and quickly adapted to a programme of outreach activities to ensure guests remained fed and cared for. Support from the Fund will allow these vital services to continue, enabling 430 seniors to receive monthly meal deliveries and regular healthcare check-ups.

Skills and Confidence for Wheelchair Users, Ukrainian Relief Service

Nearly three million people in Ukraine live with disabilities. Many suffer intense loneliness, inadequate living conditions, and feel helpless about finding work or entering education. The Order in Ukraine uses a programme of sports, outings and seminars to help disabled people overcome isolation and achieve their dreams. Over 300 wheelchair-users have built confidence and lifelong friendships through the programme, the highlight of which is the Maltese Ball, where 50 differently-abled couples dance the night away. Support from the Fund will allow the programme to host a series of bi-monthly meetings, bringing guests together from around the country, including art therapy sessions and training on key life skills such as resilience and conflict resolution.

Help for the Homeless, Spanish Association – Andalucia Delegation

Levels of social exclusion, unemployment and poverty have increased dramatically in Spain over the last decade, with state funding unable meet the rising need for support. The San Juan de Acre soup kitchen in Seville supports 50,000 vulnerable people each year with hot food and companionship, and a special focus helping those struggling to find employment or housing. With the support of the Fund, the Order is establishing new premises alongside the soup kitchen to use as a primary healthcare centre, to run training and employment support and offer legal advice. This grant will provide computers and IT equipment for the centre to enable vocational training courses, job seeker and educational support.

Residential Rehabilitiation for Ex-offenders, British Association

Breaking free from an addiction requires courage, tenacity and often specialist help. The Order in Great Britain works with vulnerable ex-offenders struggling with addiction through a free residential programme, run in partnership with the Nehemiah Project. The programme works with 30-40 men each year, helping them transform their lives through recovery and rehabilitation. Support from the Fund has significantly expanded the project with the addition of a new ‘First Stage’ house for new residents, and is now enabling the creation of a ‘Move-On’ house, where those who have been successful in the programme can continue to grow in independence and responsibility in a supported environment. Two further grants in Christmas 2020 supported staff salaries and refurbishment costs at the programme.

Medical Clinic, Embassy to East Timor

With the support of the Fund, in 2016 the Order established a free health clinic in Dili, Timor Leste. Now, the centre provides free medical and primary health care to nearly 10,000 disadvantaged Timorese people every year. However, many local people are not able to attend the clinic in person, due to disability, childcare duties or lack of awareness of its services. In 2021, the clinic will establish an outreach programme to remote communities, doubling the number of people who can receive lifesaving care. The Fund is supporting this ambitious expansion, the first of its kind in the country, by purchasing a van and medical equipment, and supporting staff costs for the outreach programme.

Improving Nutrition for Mothers and Babies, Malteser International Europe

Myanmar has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in Southeast Asia, affecting 1.6 million children under five. This is commonly due to a lack of understanding among young mothers of what comprises a nutritional diet. To address this need, Malteser International work to raise nutritional awareness in remote communities of Myanmar using trained networks of community health volunteers. To help mothers in remote areas to access the basic supplies they need to care for new babies, the programme also supplies ‘Baby Starter Kits’, including clothing, diapers, cradles and blankets to the most vulnerable new mothers following the birth of their child. This grant will provide starter kits for 150 women.

Improving Maternal and Infant Healthcare, Order of Malta France

Djougou is a city with a growing population, where medical resources are limited and malnutrition is a serious problem, affecting 32% of young children. Order of Malta France’s hospital ensures that approximately 20,000 women and children are able to affordably access a standard of medical care that not only enhances their long-term health outcomes, but in many cases is ultimately lifesaving. Support from the Fund over a number of years has enabled the hospital to become specialists in the vitally important field of maternal and child health, improving the lives of thousands. This grant will support the hospital with its running costs.

Improving Maternity Care, MBI (Order of Malta Belgium International Aid)

Masina, home to 485,000 people, is the most impoverished suburb of Kinshasa. Extreme poverty and poor living conditions leave inhabitants vulnerable to disease, and a complete lack of social security makes healthcare inaccessible to many. The King Baduoin Hospital, supported by the Order of Malta, provides healthcare and hope to thousands of forgotten people every year. Support from the Fund this Christmas will help renovate the hospital’s outdated 30-bed maternity unit so that the 1,200 women who give birth here each year can receive the care they need.

Medical Care for Marginalised Communities, Panama Association

Remote and impoverished indigenous communities in Panama often have no transport links and are cut off from public services, leaving many without access to medical care. The Order sends qualified doctors to these areas, sometimes only accessible by canoe, providing basic healthcare, vaccinations and health education, as well as referrals to public hospitals when required. Without this service over 1,800 people would otherwise be forgotten. Support from the Fund is helping the project expand the reach and variety of care it offers, with new equipment, medicines and transportation.

Community Care for the Isolated (COVID-19), Romanian Relief Service

Volunteering has been proven to improve mental health, and is a great way for young people to grow in confidence and compassion. In Romania, many want to give their time to bring aid to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but do not know how. To galvanise this group, the Order of Malta in Romania is inviting new volunteers to join its outreach work delivering food and medicines to elderly people forced to isolate by the pandemic. This programme will engage 200 new volunteers, while providing a lifeline for 1,800 elderly people in need.

“Every Child Ready to Read” After-School Programme, Albanian Relief Service

In Albania, many families struggle with financial difficulties and are unable to access afterschool care or extracurricular activities for their children. With primary school ending as early as 11:30AM, many parents are forced to choose between childcare and work which only increases their economic struggle. With support from the Fund, this programme provides an education-focused afterschool environment, with a safe space for children to learn, play and thrive. The centre is open from 11:30AM – 4:00PM and provides general activities as well as targeted homework support. There are also classes to support children who have dropped out of school or were never able to start their education to begin with.

Innovations in Remote Healthcare, Order of Malta France

A lack of medical facilities and resources in Togo means the risk of becoming seriously unwell are dangerously high.  Approximately 110,00 adults are living with HIV, and air–borne diseases being common within the community. This programme, based out of the Order’s Elavagnon Hospital in Togo is focused on providing solutions for remote communities unable to access regular healthcare. With the Fund’s support, a pilot project will explore e-healthcare, such as telemedicine, for those in remote and isolated areas. This project will also provide essential training to hospital staff and the testing of online medical tools.  Lessons learnt from this innovative work will be extended to other OMF facilities across the region.

Better Care for Pregnant Women, Order of Malta France

Pregnant women in Mokolo face high rates of infant mortality and birth complications, because of their poor living conditions and extremely limited emergency services. Most mothers in Mokolo give birth without medical assistance, often leading to complications. Following an agreement between the late Grand Master and the Cameroonian Minister of Health, the Order’s health care centre is building a specialist maternity unit for the 70,000 women of child-bearing age in the area. This grant will support the purchase  of an ambulance service dedicated to providing emergency care to women requiring Caesarean sections and treatment for urgent pregnancy complications.

School Transportation for Disabled Children, Czech Relief Service

For children with disabilities, transport can often be limited, making it difficult to enjoy social activities or access education. Families are often unable to afford the specialist disability transport necessary.  However, in 17 towns in the Czech Republic, this project provides daily transport to 45 children, as well as support meetings for their families. This grant will support the project by providing accessible transport to disabled children so that they can continue accessing an education.

Education for Disabled Children, German Association

The Karim Project, located in the Deir el Salib home in Beirut, provides ongoing education and physiotherapy for disabled young men. Usually, the project supports these men by providing extra facilities such as sessions with special therapists. However, due to the recent explosion and the pandemic, the project has had to focus on basic aid and medication to those who urgently need it. The project’s own van finally broke down, and this special grant will provide a new van to transport food safely and hygienically around the site.

Care for Forgotten Elderly People, Cuban Association

The Order in Cuba is dedicated to caring for the rapidly growing underprivileged elderly community, who receive minimal state pensions. Many elderly Cubans are struggling daily with poverty, supplementing their income by selling homemade sweets and collecting recyclable materials. This grant is focused on supporting the conversion of centres from ‘comedores’ (soup kitchens) to ‘casas’ (live in residencies). This will transform the lives of many elderly people in need, allowing them to receive more holistic care.

Improving Nutrition for Vulnerable Children, Mexican Association

Childhood malnutrition in Mexico is high, with thousands going hungry and one in eight children suffering from this cruel condition which can cause a serious range of medical issues including decreased intellectual ability, stunted growth and risk of morbidity. The ‘Help Me Grow’ project initiated by the Mexican Association and supported by the Fund, provides essential nutritional support for around 3,000 children between the ages of six months and 12 years. Mobile clinics distribute nutritional food packages in a unique programme which also provides in-depth medical care, and trains female family members in the use of soy as a nutritional alternative.

Kindergarten for Children with Neuromotor Disabilities, Romanian Relief Service

Out of 100,000 special needs children in Romania, only 8,000 of these are integrated into the education system. This is why the Maltese Kindergarten in Cluj-Napoca operates a kindergarten for disabled children with specialised services for their needs, including speech therapy, animal therapy and adapted education. Without this kindergarten, most of these children would be unable  to receive any education at all. This grant from the Fund will enable them to introduce Ayres Sensory Integration, a therapy which helps with spatial awareness and cognitive development.

After-School Support for Roma Children, Romanian Relief Service and Embassy to the Roma People

Romania has the largest population of Roma people in the world, constituting 3.3% of the population. This community faces marginalisation and a difficulty integrating, causing further isolation. The Romanian Relief Service is actively changing this with an afterschool club for Roma Children in Bucharest which has been supporting children and their families since 2015. By providing social care, counselling, and health and hygiene services these families are able to make positive changes to their environment. With this support from the Fund, the Centre will be able to double the number of children involved in this project in 2021.

Meals for Vulnerable Children, Venezuelan Association

Poverty in Venezuela is now the economic norm, with 91% of people living on under $1 per day. The effects of this situation are especially harmful to children, who are left vulnerable and suffering from chronic malnutrition. The Order, in partnership with the parish of St Francis of Assisi in Naiguata is fighting this with their soup kitchen, which feeds around 120 children per day, providing them with vital nourishment as well as medical check-ups. The pandemic has now forced the kitchen to close, however, monthly food packages continue to support these children and their families.

Kindergarten for Children in Need, Albanian Relief Service

Many Albanian families are unable to afford monthly kindergarten fees, having to prioritise expenses like food and medicine. This means some young children miss out on crucial development steps and makes it difficult for parents to work. The Albanian Relief Service runs a kindergarten for children who need it most, including Roma children and disabled children. So far, the centre has provided these services to 720 children since 2010 and continues to improve the childhoods of many. The Fund is supporting the move to a new, more appropriate building which can provide better services and enable more children to attend.

“Maltese Symphony” Music Programme for Roma Children, Hungarian Relief Service & Embassy to the Roma People

In Hungary, the Roma community are often marginalised by society and isolated from the Hungarian communal life. Many children feel the effects of this in school, where they are often from less fortunate backgrounds than their peers. The Maltese Symphony is an exciting opportunity for these children to grow their social skills and confidence by exploring music in a supportive environment. The project currently provides classes for 300 children and this grant will support the expansion of the Tarnabod centre, enabling them to enrich the lives of a further 60 children by 2021.

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 recent restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have left many families struggling to survive. Those living in the poorest areas of Buenos Aires receive no state support and live in deplorable conditions. With support from the Fund, the Order in Argentina reaches 7,700 disadvantaged people in these areas every week with vital food supplies including meat, milk, fresh vegetables and long-lasting canned goods. Many of those helped are refugees forced to flee Venezuela for their own safety.

Residential Care for the Vulnerable Elderly, Mexican Association

For many elderly Mexicans and their families, everyday life is a struggle to cope with difficult medical issues, financial instability and lack of general resources. With approximately 47% of Mexican people over the age of 60 living in poverty, the Hogar San Juan is a safe haven to those in need of a loving home. Around 56 vulnerable elders with debilitating medical issues such as dementia, disability or chronic conditions are cared for in the home. This grant will support the purchase of lifesaving oxygen concentrators, as well as contribute to the general maintenance and upkeep of the home.

Keeping Families Connected (COVID-19), British Association

The Order in Great Britain care for 3,500 elderly people at the Orders of St John Care Home Trust. Most cannot afford to pay for care, and many struggle with dementia. Visits from family members are always awaited eagerly, and are often a highlight of residents’ weeks. To allow residents at all 69 homes to connect with their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fund supported subscription to a video call service. The ability to connect digitally not only works wonders to reduce residents’ anxiety and improve mood, but also allows for resident GP appointments and care home staff hiring to continue remotely if necessary.

Vital Supplies for People in Need (COVID-19), Embassy to Bulgaria

The Order in Bulgaria began delivering aid packages to 100 of the most vulnerable people in Sofia during the COVID-19 pandemic, which amplified need across the city. Support from the Fund enabled the programme to be extended into the colder months, reaching 150 homeless, elderly and destitute people with weekly deliveries of basic foodstuffs and healthcare items. Even in less difficult times, the onset of winter forces many in these vulnerable groups to choose between buying food and paying for other necessitates like heating, medicines or children’s school materials – this year, the Order’s deliveries will make sure that no-one is forgotten.

Emergency Supplies for Evicted Families (COVID-19), Embassy to Kenya

Sudden evictions in the slums of Nairobi during the COVID-19 pandemic left many homeless and struggling to survive. Forced to move into informal settlements, many are struggling to provide for their families. The Order’s Embassy is working with a local Parish to provide food and sanitary products for 50 of the most needy families, reaching around 300 people. Support from the Fund enabled this programme to continue to provide vital aid for the most vulnerable. Catherine, who cares for nine children including her own and her late brother’s, said “Thank you on behalf of my family for your kindness.”

Care Packages for Vulnerable Families, Philippine Association

Prolonged lockdown in the Philippines caused large numbers of low-paid workers to lose their jobs, leaving many of the poorest people in Manila suddenly unable to provide for their families. School closures have also meant the disappearance of free school meals, which for many vulnerable children were their only meals of the day. Since the pandemic began, the Order has been working to provide over 2,300 families with essential provisions including food and hygiene products. Support from the Fund enabled 200 more vulnerable families to receive food packages containing rice, beans, salt and canned foods, and 500 to receive hygiene kits with soap, towels and disinfectant.

Medical Care for the Vulnerable, Order of Malta France

For many people across Africa and the Middle East, access to health care is rare due to financial reasons, accessibility or sheer scarcity of resources. This can lead to a range of health issues which left untreated have severe impacts over time, such as diarrhoea, respiratory infections, parasitic worms and now the dangers of a pandemic.  Order of Malta France supports 158 health centres in over 20 countries, enabling 1.3 million medical consultations to take place per year, providing medicine, medical equipment and immunisations for those in need. This grant will ensure these vital services remain available to the thousands who depend on them for care.

“Old is Gold” Day Care Centre, Albanian Relief Service

In Albania, employment opportunities are poor and many young professionals work abroad to achieve a better income. This leaves many elderly people isolated and struggling to get by on their own, as pensions are almost non-existent. Loneliness and marginalisation are high within this community and little support is available. Supported by the Fund, the ‘Old is Gold’ centre in Shkoder provides a welcome respite for vulnerable elderly people, giving them the opportunity to socialise, access healthcare and take part in stimulating activities in a friendly environment.  This grant will extend these services to another 200 people in dire need.

Improving Lives of Indigenous People, Order of Malta France

The Aka ethnic group is a community of pygmy people mostly living in Likouala, Republic of Congo who have become semi–nomadic due to the effects of deforestation on their lands They face extreme poverty, exploitation, and stigmatism. Since 2017 Order of Malta France has brought healthcare in the form of mobile medical units to these very isolated communities, and is planning on creating a permanent healthcare centre including a pharmacy and operating room. This grant will invest in the infrastructure of the centre, which will care for an additional 10,000 patients a year when completed.

Meals for Elderly People, Slovakian Relief Service

For many elderly people living in Bratislava, isolation and loneliness is common and this can lead to self-neglect. The Slovakian Relief Service’s “Meals on Wheels” project has been delivering warm meals, a friendly face and compassion since 2015. This programme, established and expanded with support of the Fund, acts as a lifeline to many. Now, due to COVID-19, the demand has increased by a staggering 40%, and hot lunch is being delivered to 103 elderly people on a daily basis.

Food for the Isolated (COVID-19), Romanian Relief Service

Many families in Romania have lost their livelihoods due to the economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are struggling to find the means to feed their children. Meanwhile, elderly and disabled people at high risk of infection stay isolated at home, afraid or prevented from leaving to buy food. The Romanian Relief Service have expanded their services delivering food packs and hot meals to families in need and high-risk individuals to help them through this crisis. The Fund awarded a second special grant to support these activities, enabling the Relief Service to bring the essentials for life to over 350 people.

Food Supplies for the Isolated Elderly, Ukrainian Relief Service

The Ukrainian Relief Services runs a permanent soup kitchen, as well as a ‘meals on wheels’ outreach service providing nutritious meals to 150 isolated elderly people a week. This project in Lviv, supported by the Fund, has cared for vulnerable elderly people for 30 years. This grant is helping to relaunch their outreach service, with the purchase of a new vehicle, at a time when it is more vital than ever.

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