The Order in El Salvador run four clinics providing vital healthcare to the most vulnerable in society. The clinics offer basic consultations, testing and nursing services at very low or no cost at all to over 5,000 people every year. This grants round, the Fund is supporting the cost of basic medications for the clinics.
The Australian Association is hosting a national level summer camp, bringing together around 30 young disabled guests for a few days of accessible activities to help break down the barriers they so often face. The activities will encourage them to challenge themselves in a safe and supportive environment, and build a country-wide community of both guests and volunteers. This grants round, the Fund is supporting the activity costs of the camp.
The Order’s Embassy in Georgia has been providing a nursing at home service through their Cardinal Pio Laghi Foundation since 2011. Every week, 10 volunteer nurses make home visits to meet the medical needs of 50 housebound vulnerable people. They currently undertake these visits using public transport which limits their reach and the number of visits they can manage while transporting bulky equipment. The Fund is supporting the purchase of a vehicle, enabling the team to double their reach.
The 38th Order of Malta International Summer Camp will be held in Belgium in August 2023. This annual event enables disabled people to go on holiday, share experiences with peers, and break down the barriers they often face in society. 300 young volunteers and 180 disabled guests from over 20 countries will come together for a week of activities, friendship and joy. The Fund is supporting the costs of the guest’s accommodation during the week.
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 contributing to the hospital’s ‘Poor Case Fund’ that subsidises the high cost of NICU care for the poorest patients, enabling around 200 children and 800 women a year to receive life-saving care free of charge and removing the financial and emotional burdens on their families.
The Order of Malta’s Embassy to Greece is launching a medical outreach service in Athens and a second in Rhodes to provide free basic healthcare to the homeless and any others in need. In Athens, a team of volunteer medics are providing free healthcare to the homeless alongside a partner organisation who run a local soup kitchen and outreach service; in Rhodes, groups of local and international volunteers are manning a dedicated medical point where those who do not have access to the national health system can seek treatment. The Fund is supporting the set up and medication costs for both establishments.
The Fund regularly supports the national Summer Camp for Disabled Youth, organised by young Romanian volunteers. This camp gives 50 young disabled people aged 16-35 the opportunity to enjoy a week of outdoor activities, workshops, dog therapy, sporting competitions and cultural outings. It provides participants with a rich sense of community and the chance to participate in activities that they would not normally have access to, stretching horizons and learning new skills. It is often described as the best week of their year. The Fund is supporting the food and accommodation costs for the guests at the 2023 camp.
On 6 February 2023, Turkey and Syria were hit by several severe earthquakes, which have so far left over 51,000 people dead, 110,000 injured, and destroyed over 60,000 buildings. Tens of thousands of people have been left without shelter and sanitation. Support from the Fund is enabling Malteser International to expand their existing emergency response to the internally displaced populations of Kilis and Hatay in Turkey; covering the cost of food packages and hygiene kits for 1,800 people, helping to meet their basic needs and keep them safe from the epidemics that so often spread in the aftermath of natural disasters.
In 2019, the Beregovo delegation launched a programme to train caregivers of disabled children to provide a combination of social, physical, academic, and emotional learning techniques that improves not only the health outcomes of these vulnerable youngsters, but also their ability to integrate into their local communities and lead a fuller life. The programme’s eight staff hold 5,500 sessions a year, providing 200 children with speech therapy, therapeutic massage, and psychological support. Support from the Fund is ensuring the continuation of this vital programme despite the ongoing conflict.
Last year, the Panama Association developed a new volunteer medical corps to deliver free basic healthcare to marginalised groups who struggle to access state services. Relationships have been built with four medical schools to grow their volunteer numbers and successful outreach visits were undertaken reaching 460 people. This year, the Fund is supporting the Association to reach over 1,200 people in two informal immigrant communities in the outskirts of Panama City, where many refuse to seek medical care due to fear of deportation. Volunteers also provide non-medical services including hairdressing and food distribution.
A lack of affordable housing is a major problem in Poland and the influx of refugees from neighbouring Ukraine has dramatically increased demand. With public services severely stretched, increasing numbers are finding themselves on the streets, in need of help accessing necessities. With support from the Fund this project is providing hot meals and basic medical care to the homeless and vulnerable elderly in Bielsko-Biala. Volunteers serve meals to 250 people every week, as well as setting up a medical point once a month to provide free basic health checks. They hope to reach 3,000 people with vital support in 2023.
Over five million people have crossed the border into Poland since war broke out in Ukraine and around 1.5 million refugees remain across the country. The Order of Malta’s centre in Poznan runs a variety of activities for the elderly and disabled and in April 2022 they added a daily refugee support service. Since then, over 3,000 people have benefitted from language lessons, psychological support and a kindergarten. The programme also employs several refugees as staff to deliver the activities. Refugees can come to the centre to learn skills that will support them in building a new life, but also to meet socially and feel part of a supportive community.
The economic situation in Venezuela is dire – 90% of households are living in poverty and 30% of children under five are suffering from malnutrition. A basic family food shop now costs 10 times the average monthly salary, making it impossible for most families to feed themselves. Since 2016, this soup kitchen in Naiguta, has been providing vital nourishment and medical care to vulnerable children. They receive a nutritious meal three times a week in a safe environment where the volunteers cook and care for them with love, creating a family atmosphere full of joy. With support from the Fund, the project is expanding the number of children it serves this year to 350.
In a country where infant mortality is 44 per 1,000 births – the highest in the Pacific region – the Order’s clinic is one of only two primary health care facilities offering free medical care to impoverished Timorese families, serving around 1,200 people a month and specialising in maternal and neonatal healthcare. With support from the Fund, an outreach service was developed in 2022, delivering essential care to six remote communities, caring for an additional 600 people a month who have no other access to medical services. This grants round the Fund is supporting the hire of a new staff member to relieve the administrative pressure on the medical team so they can focus purely on patient care.
Many children from disadvantaged families in Hong Kong struggle to access the same education opportunities as their peers. After the success of the “Flying Young” programme, set up during lockdown to help 80 children living in poverty access online tuition and English lessons, the Association is now opening a new children’s centre. This centre not only offers high-quality academic support, but also seeks to broaden the horizons and improve the mental wellbeing of these children by offering extra-curricular activities such as cooking, IT, art, sport and cultural outings. The programme is supporting 20 children, five days a week. Support from the Fund is enabling them to hire a professional tutor.
The elderly population in Cuba is growing rapidly; a projected 25% of the population will be over 60 years old by 2050, but there is little to no state social care provision. 50 soup kitchens or ‘comedores’ and six day centres or ‘casas’ run by the Cuban Association currently deliver food and companionship to around 5,000 isolated and disadvantaged elderly people. Cost and availability of food is one of the biggest challenges. A grant from the Fund is supporting start-up investment in a new small holding with the aim of developing a sustainable food source for this programme. In the meantime, food is often simply not available to buy, so additionally the Fund is supporting shipping costs of four large food containers.
Around 15% of the Lebanese population have a disability, but state support does not cover specialist care, and families are often forced to leave loved ones in institutional homes. For many years the Order has been offering respite to these residents through the summer camps at Chabrouh. Last year a new type of camp was piloted, focussing specifically on helping the more independent guests to develop their motor, coordination, and communication skills through art and craft therapy. Following the positive results, the Fund’s support is enabling the Lebanese Association to integrate two such camps into their annual programme at Chabrouh, giving 50 guests the opportunity to improve their mental and physical agility through creativity.
In January 2021, a fire ripped through the makeshift dwellings of the segregated and overcrowded Roma community of Sumuleu Ciuc, leaving 256 people including 162 children homeless and destitute. With support from the Fund, a new community centre is being constructed, which will help the community build a better future by providing integrated and holistic support, including life management and parenting skills, literacy classes, employment support, and personal hygiene education. Opening in June 2023, there will be afterschool clubs for children as well as extra-curricular activities designed to improve socio-emotional development and discourage early school dropout.
There are nearly 2,000 Roma people living in dire conditions in Northern Albania. Isolated from mainstream society, both socially and economically, they face challenges with housing, unemployment, access to social services, healthcare and education. Since 2001, the Albanian Relief Service has improved access to social services, healthcare, legal assistance and education through their integration centre in Lezha, constructed with support from the Fund. A grant from the Fund is supporting programme costs including a kindergarten for three- to six-year-olds, after school activities, literacy support, sport and music, helping improve the Roma children’s school attendance rates and increasing their chance of a better future.
In the rural mountains of Northern Albania, infant mortality is twice as high as urban areas and 11% of children’s growth is stunted due to poor health practices. The Albanian Relief Service has provided medical support in the region since 1995, improving the health and nutritional status of around 1,000 mothers and children every year. With support from the Fund, volunteer medics deliver comprehensive ante and post-natal care, health and nutrition education, early childhood development monitoring and referrals to maternity hospitals where required. “Baby boxes” of vital supplies are distributed to the most vulnerable new parents and a nutrition programme promotes the importance of healthy eating for early years’ childhood development.
Lebanon is enduring a humanitarian catastrophe ignited by one of the worst financial crises in centuries, and further fuelled by COVID-19 and the Beirut explosion in 2020. Food prices have increased more than tenfold since 2019 and fuel shortages cripple normal life, endangering essential services such as hospitals. Vital medicines are scarce and expensive, and drug subsidies have recently been lifted on essential medicines to treat common, chronic conditions. With the support of key Associations of the Order, the Fund is collaborating with the Lebanese Association, Order of Malta France and the Sisters of the Cross to deliver a consistent supply of vital medications, from antipsychotics to analgesics, to 2,500 disabled people in five institutions across the country.
The Order of Malta is a major provider of elderly care in Lithuania, where 20% of the population is over 65 years old. The Relief Service provides meals on wheels, day care centres, a residential care home, and recently launched a nursing at home service. Volunteers in over 31 locations have also provided a range of ‘homecare at-home’ services to the elderly for several years providing support with basic household chores, delivering food and medication, and a vital source of companionship – sometimes the volunteer is their only regular visitor. This year, the Fund is supporting the Relief Service’s goal of visiting 600 vulnerable elderly people, helping many more people to continue to live independently in their own homes while also being part of a community.
In Albania, families with disabled children often struggle to find support for their children’s complex needs. The Albanian Relief Service’s socio-medical centre provides disabled children from marginalised communities with specialist therapy, adapted education, recreational excursions and life skills classes. These help the children lead healthy and integrated lives, whilst also supporting parents through workshops and free social and legal advice. Support from the Fund has enabled the programme to expand to a second location at the Relief Service’s Kindergarten, enabling them to double capacity to meet high demand. They are now open five days a week, providing 85 children aged 3-10 with vital therapeutic support and help to integrate with their peers.
Venezuela has been immersed in a humanitarian emergency for the past decade. Many hospitals have closed or are operating without regular access to electricity or water. They are chronically short-staffed, vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and diphtheria are spreading, and levels of maternal and infant mortality continue to rise. The town of Maiquetía, in La Guaira, has very few public services. Home to 10,000 people, its existing ‘ambulatorio’ (clinic) had to close due to a lack of funds and personnel. With support from the Fund, the Venezuelan Association is renovating the building and will be re-opening this facility, offering a rotation of visiting specialists (cardiology, orthopaedics, paediatrics). Patients will also be referred to local hospitals as necessary.
The economic situation in Lebanon continues to deteriorate with 80% of the population now living in poverty. Many already vulnerable elderly people are being pushed into poverty and debt due to currency devaluation and inflation that leaves them unable to afford food or medical care. The Lebanese Association has been running day care centres for the elderly at three of their primary healthcare centres for the last 20 years, creating warm and friendly places where the elderly can socialise, join activities, have a healthy meal, access basic healthcare, and remain an active part of their community. With support from the Fund, the Association is expanding this work, establishing a further three elderly centres, caring for 180 vulnerable elderly people three times a week.
The Romanian Relief Service have a substantial programme caring for elderly people struggling with living alone. The pandemic shifted their activity to visiting people in their homes, and during this time they identified how many elderly people in dire need were not able to attend centres to get help. In 2021, with support from the Fund, they launched a system of dedicated helplines giving many vulnerable people a vital sense of security and enabling volunteers to check in on them and respond to their needs more effectively. The programme is now running in four locations, answering nearly 500 calls a month. This year the Fund is supporting an extension to a fifth location, reaching a further 35 housebound people in need. This support includes the hire of a specialist staff member.
Very few of the Roma children living in the segregated camp at Beregovo in Ukraine attend school, and those who do often drop out. Some girls become mothers as young as 13 years old. Although integration is difficult, education alongside other local children is key to ensuring a better, more stable future for these marginalised children. With the Fund’s support, the Order has built a new educational and integrational centre, which provides after school activities, vocational training and lessons in health and hygiene to around 50 children. The centre also ensures a daily meal for the children, which is sometimes the only food they will have that day, the provision of counselling and mental health support and music lessons which provides a holistic educational experience.
Since 2000, volunteers from the Albanian Relief Service have been providing a month-long summer camp at the seaside for 250 children who would otherwise never experience a holiday. These children, from Roma families, remote rural communities, and other marginalised groups, are excluded from so many mainstream educational opportunities and activities. The camp reduces feelings of segregation and discrimination at an early age and includes educational activities in a recreational setting to build the children’s confidence, ensure that they do not fall behind at school, and help build aspirations for their future. The camp is also an important means of making sure that these children are not left alone at home or on the streets while their parents are at work, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation.
Port Kaituma, a small town on the border between Venezuela and Guyana, has very limited healthcare and there is no paediatrician in the region. As refugees continue to cross the border, the pressure on the already poor state services continues to increase; many arrive in poor health, are often unvaccinated and may never have seen a dentist. In 2020 the Order’s Ambassador launched a new initiative, with support from the Fund, facilitating visits from volunteer medics to provide health checks, basic medication, and referrals. In 2022, the project brought vital care and treatment to 373 children with no other access to medical facilities through four outreach missions – including dentistry and ultrasound scanning for pregnant women for the first time. The Fund is continuing this support in 2023.
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. With support from the Fund, the Slovakian Relief service have created the Order’s first permanent centre for the Roma people in Slovakia. The Centre has started by offering a morning club for mothers with young children to improve early years development, and an afterschool programme to improve education outcomes for children through homework support, art, sport and language classes. This grant cycle, the Fund is supporting further refurbishment of the building to make space for music lessons and apprenticeship skills training.
Latvia has seen one of the highest inflation increases in Europe with the rising cost of food putting additional pressure on those already struggling to make ends meet – 70% of elderly people live on less than €300 a month. With support from the Fund, the Relief Service established a soup kitchen that is now providing 90 disadvantaged people with hot meals and companionship three times every week. Further support from the Fund means this project can expand to serve 120 people and implement a “meals on wheels” service to 90 isolated elderly people in four rural areas where there are no public social services. Volunteers are also providing basic homecare support and running errands. In addition, a weekly activities club is being launched for 30 elderly guests run by young volunteers, helping to provide regular opportunities for socialising to boost mental health.
55 million people worldwide have dementia, but many countries are unprepared to meet the care needs of either those suffering from the disease or those who care for them, leaving both groups increasingly isolated. In Romania, there is limited support for dementia sufferers being cared for at home. To help these vulnerable elderly stay with their families for as long as possible, the Romanian Relief Service has launched an Alzheimer Café, which provides monthly sessions for around 25 informal caregivers, supporting both training in dementia care as well as a social support group for those looking after family members with dementia. Support from the Fund is enabling them to make these sessions weekly to meet growing demand, build a library of dementia-relevant literature to support care givers to learn more about the condition and its treatment, and hire a specialist to work alongside the volunteers.
Levels of social exclusion, unemployment and poverty have increased dramatically in Spain over the last decade and the state is unable to meet the demand for additional assistance. The Order of Malta’s San Juan de Acre soup kitchen in Seville has been supporting thousands of people a year since 2011 with hot food and companionship. With support from the Fund, they opened a new Social Action Centre in 2021 to meet the broader needs of their beneficiaries such as primary healthcare, legal advice, and employment and education support. With further support from the Fund, they are now adding a hygiene centre alongside their existing projects, offering a truly holistic service to help people to get off the streets, regain their dignity and build a future. Around 50 homeless and vulnerable people each month will come for showers, personal care services and to collect essential hygiene supplies.