By Bejay Browne
EMOTIONS ran high on a street outside the headquarters of a Paphos charity yesterday when 100 needy families, including mothers with babies were turned away after volunteers ran out of food.
The closure yesterday of the charity Solidarity, has now left 1,000 families with no means finding food as they fall outside municipal boundaries and are not covered for state aid.
In fact the charity said yesterday it had recently appealed directly to the President but received a refusal on financial grounds.
Pavlina Patsalou, who heads up the registered charity, along with Paphos councilor George Sofokleous said that many of the 100 people who arrived at the charity’s door yesterday were so desperate for food that they became hysterical, and were wailing and crying in the street when they found out there was nothing left to give. She described the situation as heartbreaking.
Patsalou said that it was the first time since the charity began helping 20 needy families two years ago, that there was no food at all available to hand out.
Numbers have increased so dramatically in the past year – over 1,000 families – that Solidarity finally has to close its doors.
Patsalou said the emotional scenes outside the charity’s premises yesterday were so upsetting she had to leave and go to her own shop close by, but people followed her there, she said, and were literally begging her for food and baby milk.
“I was in a panic; these people need help and we don’t have anything to give them. Cyprus has to help us or else I truly believe we will see some of these babies dying,” she said.
Patsalou says Solidarity was being referred dozens of families at a time when welfare services were struggling to cope with rising numbers of those needing assistance. She said Solidarity’s appeal to President Nicos Anastasiades had met with a refusal.
“We appealed to the president after our local MP’s said they couldn’t help. He replied to us by letter saying that there is no money available and he is sorry but he can’t help. Since then, we have tried to contact him by telephone and email but he doesn’t respond,” said Patsalou.
She is desperately appealing to all towns in Cyprus to step forward to help, before these people are left to starve to death.
“Times are terrible for so many, but even a packet of rice or pasta will help. I am begging the public all over Cyprus to help us to feed the needy, I am so worried about the babies, we have to do something now before it’s too late,” said Patsalou who was in tears.
The volunteer said that the mushrooming numbers of individuals and families in need has meant that the cost involved in helping them is out of control.
She spent the day telephoning all of the stores and supermarkets in Paphos as well as other organisations to see if they were able to make any further donations.
In particular, she implored people to come forward with items urgently needed for babies such as, powdered milk, wipes, baby food, shampoo, nappy cream and baby lotion.
“We also need lentils, beans, pasta, noodles, rice, sugar, flour and tinned goods.”
Patsalou requested that people wanting to help the charity should contact her directly.
Pavlina Patsalou 99220152