By Bejay Browne
AN SOS has been sent out by a Paphos-based charity whose numbers grew from 20 families to over 650 in less than six months.
The charity says it has run out of cash and food and can no longer help, leaving all those people with nowhere to turn in the coming days.
Volunteers are also buckling under the pressure of trying to raise the needed €20,000 a month without government support or sponsorship. They now say that the coffers are all but empty and donations of food and goods have dried up.
“We only have €2,000 left in the bank account which will only last for a few more days. This is an urgent SOS appeal to the public to help or else people will starve and die. It’s impossible to survive without food,” said Pavlina Patsalou who heads up ‘Solidarity’, along with Paphos councillor George Sofokleous.
Patsalou says the public’s finances can no longer stretch to donations, and supermarkets were no longer donating food.
“These are hard times for everyone. The supermarkets are helping by donating some drinks for our fundraising events but they say it is now too difficult for them to give us food,” said Patsalou who added that she spends hours on her phone each day begging for money and food donations from everyone she can think of.
“From 7am until 10pm at night I am calling people to try and drum up support, I am so worried that by next week, families will be left without food and will starve. Just today a family with six children came to us for help. How can we turn them away?”
According to Patsalou, the Cypriot family is in dire straits, as the parents are both out of work. “The husband was a tailor and the wife worked in a fruit shop, both are no longer working.”
She said she realises that times are hard for everyone, but for some, it’s far worse and no matter how small a donation, even a packet of rice or tin or tomatoes, would help.
“This is a heartbreaking situation and its getting worse by the day,” she said.
For the last six months or so, the charity has been providing packages of food and goods included everything from toiletries, to nappies, baby milk and non perishable food stuffs. They now say they will have to concentrate on supplying the bare minimum to ensure that people will be able to survive.
“There is no money from the government and welfare is sending us at least five new families a day,” said Patsalou.
The families in question are not officially entitled to assistance as they fall outside municipal boundaries.
The charity is also asking people to organise fund raising events on its behalf, to ensure a steady trickle of cash.
“Even though we are very tired and the stress is overwhelming, we can’t possibly turn our backs on the people in our community who need help. We can’t do everything ourselves and we really need people to help.”
Some of the families Patsalou helps don’t even have electricity or telephones, or even gas to cook.
“It’s no good if we are giving people food if they can’t afford to buy gas bottles for their cookers, so we are helping with this as well,” Patsalou said.
Details of upcoming events can be found on the charity’s Facebook page as well as their website.
For further information or to help: – Pavlina Patsalou 99 220 152