Who would have thought at the beginning of this year that 2020 would be such a difficult year? The Covid 19 pandemic changed a lot for many people around the world. Even the "Miss Stone Center" in Strumica (North Macedonia) had and still has to struggle with the consequences.
Thanks to the particularly great commitment of the staff and generous donations, which arrived in the greatest need, the work has been able to continue so far, and with respect for this achievement, it can be gratefully noted that the people were provided with food and other necessary things on a daily basis without interruption. This was and is vital for the survival of the most needy food and aid recipients. Unfortunately, there is no end in sight to the crisis, as the number of newly infected people has increased massively in recent weeks, including in North Macedonia.
At the beginning of the Corona crisis, the "Meals on Wheels" project was faced with massive problems. The work had to be completely reorganized. At the beginning, a large stock of food was set up, but it was always gone quickly, as over 200 people had to be supplied every day. In the first half of 2020, however, there were not only problems in terms of obtaining food, but above all because of the increase in the price of food products, disinfectants and protective clothing. For this reason – and above all because of the need to purchase disposable dishes/food boxes – costs skyrocketed and went beyond the budget. To ensure that "Meals on Wheels" could continue to function, at the beginning of the pandemic employees made their own protective masks and procured protective clothing and disinfectants to disinfect not only the "Miss Stone Center" several times a day, but also the entrances to the homes of people who receive a full meal five times a week. The 160 people in Strumica plus 50 in Radoviš, who despite all the difficulties continue to receive regular care, are particularly grateful for this, knowing that this is not at all a matter of course
In the three years of its existence, the Home Care Ministry has never been more important than during this Corona crisis. All beneficiaries are in the high-risk group and were particularly affected by curfews and restrictions. It is therefore all the more important that the home care team visits them regularly, offers them to do the necessary trips to the post office, grocery stores and pharmacies and continues to provide them with medical care under special protective measures. The beneficiaries receive help in the household, with showers and in many other ways, depending on what the individual needs at the time. For the most part, the team takes the place of the family. Together, they overcome illnesses, grief and depressive phases, and together they celebrate birthdays, Christmas and Easter. During these three years, many prejudices have been overcome and the relationship with the people in need of help is much friend-friend than staff-client. The three-year existence of this ministry is a great success story and reason for gratitude.
The project "Warm Soup for Radoviš" also had to be adapted to the new Corona reality. As before, however, the very poor people living in Radoviš can still receive warm meals. All those who receive food will be called out at different times so that they can pick up their food outside the building. This avoids crowding and direct contact. People are also given advice on how to protect themselves from the virus and where to go if they have specific symptoms.
Most affected by the Covid-19 crisis are the Roma projects in Ohrid. The school for Roma children and the counseling center for Roma girls had to close in mid-March. The children from socially extremely vulnerable families suffered most from the lockdown, especially as they often live with up to eight siblings in a one-room social apartment. They do not attend regular school because none of the children have an Internet-capable mobile phone and certainly not a laptop – and because their teachers often do not even bother to include these children in the learning program. So, it was a great joy when the summer school reopened its doors at the beginning of June. All hygiene regulations are observed. The children are in five groups for one hour each on the school premises, receive a meal afterwards, and everything is disinfected so that the next ones can come. This procedure is very time-consuming, but it is worth it. The youngest children made wings that they wear in class to make it easier for them to keep the distance rule. Masks are also compulsory. This summer, the children have to catch up on missed schoolwork, but there is still time for games and fun.
Source: "Miss Stone Center" Strumica / Christina Cekov