As you can imagine we are, as is everyone, trying to react and come to terms with the pandemic of COVID-19. In Romania, those dying as a result of the virus are not as many as in places like, UK, Spain, Italy and the USA, partly because of the tough action the government has taken to combat the spread of the disease.
At Nightingales, due to the coronavirus, we have been ordered to close the coffee shop, which we did the week before the government directives were put in place, to protect our staff and the people using the coffee shop. The project for young women at risk and the young men we mentor is now in operation online as we are unable to meet with them physically. We are, however, able to communicate daily on the phone to check that they are ok. Our key workers have also been able to use What’s App, Messenger and Zoom to be able to speak with them, to check that they and their families are doing well, and to help with any problems that are causing them concern during this difficult time. It is hard not to be able to actually see them as for some this time at home is hard and has thrown up a lot of new challenges that they have to try and overcome. Sadly, not all our beneficiaries have access to the internet so it has been much harder for them to be part of any group activities. With six of the girls, and a number of the boys, we are also able to deliver weekly food parcels to them and their families. These are families which do not have the ability during this time to work and therefore have no income to support their families. Along with these food parcels we are able to give them parcels of activities to complete at home with their siblings to help pass the time.
The disabled adults living in Cernavoda are the group struggling the most during this period; the changes in their schedules have caused some problems. We have been able to give them a wide range of activities to do at the house both inside and out. We have to make sure these young adults are protected and make sure that they are safe during this time, so we have to keep them isolated from close interactions with people outside their home, though they are struggling to understand this. The young people living independently are all well, self-isolating. We are providing them with their shopping on a weekly basis so that they do not have to leave the house, which if they do without the right documentation they can be fined on the spot. By doing this we are also helping to protect them against the virus.
Looking further ahead into 2020, we are unsure when the restrictions will be lifted by the Romanian government. This means that many groups of volunteers from Scotland, England and America have had to cancel their trips to come and support the work that we are doing in Cernavoda, although this is sad, the priority is making sure that everyone is safe and that the guidelines from different governing authorities are being respected. This is unfortunate for our beneficiaries who look forward to these visits and also gain greatly from them. We will be focusing our efforts on how we can best use this time to make sure that the good work that the groups of volunteers provide is not lost.
We are sure that 2020 will be a year that we will never forget, a year that will change us all. It will help us as a charity to make sure that we are supporting our beneficiaries in the long term in the best possible ways, to make sure that the work that we are doing has the greatest positive impact in the years ahead.