Together for the next

Publish date 20-01-2021

by Mauro Palombo

Never as in this time are we aware of the emergency that surrounds us and painfully touches us. But we don't want to get used to emergencies. We are rather convinced that it is always possible to do something to offer answers, in the name of concreteness, without giving up on acting on the roots of the problems, so that the source of the emergency comes to dry up.

Our friends in Georgia also give us an example, the Together for the neighbor foundation, by Father Witold Szulczynski, a Polish Salesian priest, who had already been responsible for Caritas in Georgia for a long time since the birth of the new State and now responsible for the local Salesian community.
The great and widespread poverty of the country's early years, independent since 1991, has been decreasing, but still remains as high as the social inequalities. The privatization of the health system excludes those who cannot afford the services; welfare is minimal, and only solidarity actions try to avoid the complete social exclusion of the poor, both very young and old. With the pandemic immediately creating hundreds of thousands of unemployed, among the most precarious.

For twenty years we have been supporting the service gradually animated by Father Witold which faces many different situations of poverty - families in difficulty, boys and girls who when they turn 18 have to leave the orphanage and often they do not know where to go: they are still studying, or want to continue their studies, and they must be given a hand. These boys are paid for their studies, professional courses, clothing, shoes ... so that they too can complete a path that opens them to life. According to the indications received years ago by Pope John Paul II "by helping the poor we must build bridges between the Churches", we also collaborate with initiatives of the Orthodox Patriarchate: soup kitchens for the poor, schools for children from needy families, aid for refugees from the infinite wars in the Caucasus.
We are now in action to collaborate on their main commitment: the home service project for elderly in need, in Tbilisi.
Pensions exist, but for all they are equivalent to today's exchange rate of 58 euros per month; if pensions are not at a European level, however, so are the prices of goods, which the pandemic has helped to rise here too. A popular saying summarizes: the state pension is too small to live and too big to die of hunger ...

The elderly included in the project are more than 200. They live in conditions of acute poverty, in poor, very fragile homes, they are often not self-sufficient and bedridden by severe pathologies.
Above all, the latter live only thanks to the help they receive: care, drugs, diapers, food ... The staff is a beautiful team of 14 people, with adequate skills: doctors, nurses, social workers and competent in administration. Every day they go to the homes of the patients to be present and do the necessary, from personal hygiene to the treatment of diseases; they administer drugs and injections, treat bedsores, bring food, do some shopping, take care of cleaning. All without asking for anything, there are not really the conditions.
35% of the expenses, limited to 200 assisted, is covered by the town hall; for the rest, from the materials that you manage to get - which in turn generate resources - and from the funds that you try to raise. It is providence. With our desire to continue to be there.

Mauro Palombo
NP November 2020

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