Covid-19 – An update about our existing and future projects
In times like these we – as an organization, as individuals, and as a society, are facing a multitude of challenges that far extend our regular scope of work at Phoenix Foundation. We want to show our support to the people who are most affected by the Coronavirus- specifically the elderly, the immunocompromised, the predisposed. We want to help, encourage, and protect them as much as possible.
Simultaneously, we need to make sure that assistance also reaches those who fall into existential peril or fear for survival due to the emergency measures in place. The poor and homeless, the part-time workers, freelancers and entrepreneurs, parents and care givers, victims of domestic violence and abuse, and those with mental health conditions. All those who struggle with how they will pay rent, buy food, or get the care they need.
But it is equally important that our empathy does not stop at the borders of Germany or Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “We are a community, where each life matters and every person counts.” If there is to be even a sliver of truth in this statement, we cannot allow people to get stuck in overcrowded refugee camps and left to their own devices at closed borders with nowhere to go. The people who cannot ‘stay home’ because they have no home, the ones that cannot wash their hands because there is no clean water or soap. The people who cannot practice social distancing because they are living among thousands, in crowded camps designed to hold only a fraction of those numbers.
To show our solidarity, we have decided to provide long-term support to two new projects that are doing immensely important work assisting refugee children and youth in Greece – the organization ‘Action for Education’ operating on Samos and Chios, and ‘The Home Project’, active in Athens.
Since we cannot solely rely on appropriate national actions (as clearly demonstrated by the cessation of the humanitarian acceptance of refugees and the continuation of deportations during this time) we must become active as a civil society. Of course, each one of us is currently facing unprecedented challenges that bring insecurities and fears with them. But this collective challenge can only be met collectively, spanning across and inclusive of all borders, classes, cultures, and religions. We can ask ourselves: What can I do? What do I have to give? Each and every one of us can explore their individual range of ability and capability to contribute to the benefit of all.
Especially during times of crisis, we the Phoenix Foundation, try to continue supporting all of our projects and help them react and adapt to the changing demands and conditions. With that in mind, we would like to update you on the current situation of each of our partner projects and implore you to continue your support during these trying times. We are aware that hardships are around every corner and can feel overwhelming, seemingly without end in sight. But as the saying goes, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Our hearts are open and large, and so is our willingness and ability to help. The word solidarity cannot continue to be used as an empty hull of a word for expressions of condolences and symbolic sympathy. Only if we act can solidarity truly come to life.
The situation is worsening in the Lebanese refugee camps that are home to our Phoenix Tent school. The danger of the Corona virus taking hold in the overcrowded refugee camp is hanging above everyone’s’ head like the sword of Damocles. In February, the country registered the first cases of the virus coming from Iran, the most affected country in the region. Step by step the borders were closed and public life was put on hold. Because of that, access to food, hygiene products and medical help has proven increasingly limited.
Our partner, Zeltschule e.V., enacted various measures to protect the children. Its founder, Jaqueline Flory, is aware of the fatal consequences of even just one case could have in the camp. “Social distancing is not possible in the refugee camps where thousands of people live closely together. To be able to wash hands as often as advised, we would require almost double the amount of water as to-date, and the additional soap, disinfection, masks and gloves would present an enormous increase of funding needs, all, while donations are decreasing in Germany, since everyone is concerned with their own needs. Currently, our Phoenix-children are fine, but the next months will certainly prove a challenge for all. In this current climate, the Phoenix School will need our assistance and an estimated 8,500 Euros additionally to brace the virus.
Phoenix Orphanage Organization
The Phoenix Orphanage Organization in Zigoti, Uganda, is facing very similar problems. The country just past week registered its first cases of Corona, days after a national order to close all schools, stores, even markets, large gatherings and churches. Transportation means have been limited causing severe shortages to the supply of food and basic materials. Also here in Zigoti the eruptions of the virus could be fatal –limited access to water, not enough soap and hygiene products, people living together in close quarters, many of whom are already struggling with various health concerns. Since our Phoenix kids are unable to attend school during this time, all of the students have returned to the organization and are being looked after at our rented facility. At the time being, they are trying to adjust the supplies they have, hopeful that food and basics won’t be limited further and the situation remains manageable.
ghettokids – Soziale Projekte e.V.
The organization ghettokids e.V. is of course feeling the effects of the locally enacted Corona prevention measures. Their programs for the socially disadvantaged had to be reduced to almost zero, especially since the declaration of emergency in Bavaria. The Phoenix Foundation-funded ghettokids center in Munich, as well as all club-, and recreation rooms, had to be closed until further notice, leaving many of the children and youth without a safe place to escape.
The founder of ghettokids e.V., Susanne Korbmacher, laments: “Even digitally, we are limited in our ability to provide alternative educational support as many children lack access to computers and laptops. WhatsApp is often the only way to stay in touch, as many do not have cell phone contracts. Through the app is how we stay in contact with the kids and try to offer support with problems and academic preparations (also test prep), or we help coordinate grocery runs when they run out of food in their homes. (…) I can’t even imagine the existential pressure weighing on the shoulders of many of the families – and how it is affecting family life. It is tragic when your hands are tied from providing effective support.”
Action For Education
Action for Education was founded in 2018 by a group of volunteers, who for years had been active in various educational projects for refugees in Greece. The organization was brought to life as an answer to the devastating conditions faced by children and youth on the Greek island of Chios. Currently, the organization runs three centers on Chios and Samos, servicing various age groups. Their goal is to guarantee basic necessities, but also to build a community, offer education and leisure programs and to stand by their side in all areas of need.
The Home Project
The Home Project is a charitable organization founded with the mission to offer support specifically to young children who have reached Greece by themselves, and to assist them in a new start. Collected in the streets, refugee camps, police stations and jails and brought to the safety of the eleven locations in Athens, where they receive the comprehensive care they need. Well-developed programs are offered that assist with safety concerns, basic needs, and development of the children, in order to help them adjust and incorporate into society.