By Vatican News and Caritas Georgia
Caritas Georgia, one of the agencies affiliated with Caritas Internationalis, says that though the coronavirus affects all segments of the world population it is “particularly detrimental” to those who are living in poverty. For this reason, Caritas in Georgia “is putting all its efforts” into standing next to the country’s “most vulnerable”.
Anahit Mkhoyan is the Director of Caritas Georgia. She says, “we live through extraordinary days and this is the time to reprioritize things in our lives. It pushes us to define what is important to us and stick to these important things as hard as possible”. Having dedicated itself to the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus, Caritas Georgia has “developed an action plan, which aims to maximize the safety of beneficiaries and employees”.
The lonely and elderly
One of the priorities Caritas Georgia has identified is with the elderly and people with chronic diseases – those who are most susceptible to the virus. Members of Caritas Georgia have been distributing food and basic hygiene items to the lonely and elderly of their Day care Centre and running a Humanitarian Soup-Kitchen”.
Their Home Care service continues to assist the most deprived patients, especially the lonely elderly who are in need of health care. The medical team has been trained and acquainted with all the necessary instructions. They strictly follow all safety precautions to ensure their own as well as their beneficiaries’ wellbeing.
Children in need
Caritas Georgia also reaches out to “children in need”. It continues to operate “small family-type homes and 24-hour shelters for street-connected children”. Systematic cleaning and disinfection of the indoor and outdoor areas of the premises are carried out in accordance to the recommendations of the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health. Anyone wishing to leave the service is “strictly controlled” and visits are limited . Employees pay special attention to ensur that the children’s free time is respectful of the quarantine conditions.
Caritas Georgia’s Mobile Groups work in collaboration with partner organisations as well as with the government to patrol the streets and offer help to street children. If necessary, the children are transferred to the quarantine area arranged by the state.
The spread of COVID-19 has led to the closure of educational institutions all over the world, which in turn has resulted in the transition to online and at-home learning. To limit the disruption of the educational process, Georgia’s Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports introduced the model of distance learning. Therefore, to respond to current needs, the Caritas Georgia team has worked to adapt their services to the current situation. They have elaborated “a new action plan to support distance learning in target schools and give recommendations to teachers, children and their parents”.
Along with this, an online education programme was elaborated for the children from socially unprotected families, who are involved in Caritas Georgia’s Day Care and Art Therapy education system. Food and hygiene packages are distributed regularly in the homes of those participating in the programme”.
Caritas Georgia also provides support to single mothers and their children in the St. Barbare Mother and Child Day Care Centres. The beneficiaries are provided with meals and hygienic items. They are involved in various entertainment and educational activities facilitated by the Centre.
Homeless and socially disadvantaged
Speaking of the homeless and socially disadvantaged, Caritas Georgia intervenes in order to reduce the risk of contracting the new coronavirus through the Batumi Shelter for the Homeless. It has implemented 24-hour a day work schedule and responds to all the needs of the beneficiaries to protect them from the virus.
Addressing parishioners, Bishop Giuseppe Pasotto, President of Caritas Georgia, said “our Caritas has an impartial heart, it cannot close its eyes or turn its back on those closest to it. If someone is in trouble, take care to let them know about it, and ask Caritas Georgia to demonstrate the support of the Church and effective love. But we all need to make sure that Caritas Georgia is ready, within its capabilities” to support those who cannot find help elsewhere.
Finally, Caritas Georgia is maximally trying to respond to all the needs of the people approaching the organisation for help. It is actively working to adapt its services and gain the additional resources to protect the country’s vulnerable groups from the pandemic.