By Bejay Browne
A PAPHOS charity which is feeding over 1,000 needy families has reopened its doors following an overwhelming response from the public when it was forced to close down.
Following a report in the Cyprus Mail, generous members of the public from all over the island stepped forward to help the charity Solidarity, which had run out of food.
Pavlina Patsalou, who heads up the registered charity, along with Paphos councilor George Sofokleous said that the charity wanted to thank the people of Cyprus for their generosity but urged that a steady flow of donations must keep coming in to ensure that they don’t run out of food again.
“More than fifty people came with food or sent it in taxis from Nicosia and Limassol, it was really heartwarming,” said Patsalou.
Yet, even yesterday when more than 120 families arrived at the premises for help, volunteers found it hard to keep up with the demand.
“We have managed to amass enough food to last us for about six weeks, and we need more all the time,” said Patsalou.
Without the support of Solidarity, a registered charity, hundreds would go without food. “Some of the mothers are desperate, without us, they would have nothing. It really is that bad,” she added.
Patsalou said pleas to the government for help continue to fall on deaf ears in spite of numerous requests for aid and considerable media coverage.
“No one has offered to help us, except the general public. Some people have even promised to give us powdered milk for the babies on a regular basis every month.”
Close to 1,000 families in Paphos have no means finding food as they fall outside municipal boundaries and are not covered for state aid.
While it may have opened again for food donations, Patsalou said they charity was no longer able to help pay household bills such as water and electricity, as they have done a number of times in the past as cash donations have dried up.
“We are having to be strict and are concentrating on giving people food, we have to make sure people can eat,” she said.
Patsalou said Solidarity was being referred dozens of families by welfare, which is struggling to cope with rising numbers.
“I’m continuing to appeal. How can we let people starve to death here in Cyprus?”
None of the supermarkets, stores or businesses has yet stepped forward to offer regular help to the charity.
“We have to rely on the public,” said Patsalou.
An event is being held today at Kouklia Square in Paphos. The fundraiser kicks off at 6pm and there will be entertainment including live bands such as Symbiosis, traditional Cypriot dancing and more.
Cash donations can be made direct to Gabriel’s Tavern, Aspris Tavern or Cafe V Bar, all registered collection points, or to one of the six Solidarity volunteers that will be in the square.
Patsalou said: “Please bring any food or baby items. It’s vital that we gather as much as possible.”
She said shoppers could also donate bonus points from Alpha Mega and Papantoniou Supermarkets to the Solidarity bonus card number.
“We are able to exchange these points for vouchers to buy food,” said Patsalou.
Solidarity is also helping a child who is a registered paraplegic.
“He requires treatment and physiotherapy three times in Limassol. His family are in dire need of help financially and need a means of transport,” said Patsalou.
Contact Pavlina Patsalou 99220152